THE MORAL ISSUES: CONTRACEPTION AND MARRIAGE
The subtitle given to HV, “de propagatione humanae prolis recte ordinanda,” specifically names the principle topic to which it is devoted. It is the usual practice in theology to treat the question of regulating births as an addenda to the treatise on human sexuality and conjugal morality. The advantage of this method is that general principles with respect to the theology of marriage and engagement in sexual activity have already been enunciated before the specific question is approached. Un- fortunately, HV does not follow this procedure, being concerned with only this one issue, but chose to presuppose some principles and imply others. While the opening paragraphs of its moral section, 7-10, do mention an overall view of human sexuality and marriage, the ideas found there do not substantively contribute to the explicit approach that was taken to the question of birth control. Rather, these sections, especially 7-9, refer mainly to the teaching of GS on marriage while HV,10 begins with an interpretation of “responsible parenthood” as an introduction to its own moral methodology. The body of the encyclical’s proper moral teaching, 10-18, exhibits other ideas about conjugal relations which must be taken in their own frame of reference, and which reflect back upon the document’s entire understanding of marriage.
For this reason, it will be more to the point to begin with HV’s own treatment of the morality of regulating births before attempting to appreciate its general perspective on marriage. Some may object to this procedure and argue that Pope Paul’s call for an “integral vision of man” (HV,7-9) as well as his general pastoral approach (HV, 19-30) are essential to understand what he is teaching as a whole. While this position has some merit and falls directly in line with many episcopal interpretations of the encyclical, it also forgets that the body of the teaching, HV, 10-17, not only is the reason for the encyclical’s existence, but it was the principle cause for the vast majority of reactions and commentaries. Theological, interpretation was concerned neither with a restatement of the teaching of GS (where it was accurately represented) nor with the pastoral exhortations encouraging acceptance of the pope’s position. Rather, it centered about those principles which went beyond the conciliar teaching and which were to be carried into the pastoral situation.
Thus we will begin with an exposition of HV’s moral argumentation concerning the regulation of births and the response it received. From there we will be in a better position to return to the moral questions concerning marriage in general and the encyclical’s position which must, at least in part, be extrapolated from its specific moral reasoning. Because there has been some disagreement about the precise content of the teaching, we will first closely examine what Pope Paul VI has put forth in HV in regard to the morality of birth regulation by outlining the moral method which has been employed. We will then be able to treat its component propositions separately and take account of extraneous supportive or critical argumentation.
I. Contraception and the core of the encyclical
Part II of HV, para. 7-18, contains the body of its teaching. As mentioned above, 7-9 are virtually a re-statement of part of the teaching of GS, 47-52 on marriage, although not without some interpretation already begun,(1) and do not touch upon the direct question of birth control. Also, IIV,18 is a summary paragraph reasserting the right and duty of the church to teach moral principles and not adding anything new to what has been written. The moral reasoning which most concerns us here, then, is concentrated in para. 10-17, of which 10-14 contain the principles of the teaching and 15-17 are directed to related issues. The basic understanding of the moral approach as a whole must be determined from a close reading of HV, 10-14 which contain its essential elements in a more or less developmental order.
HV,10 begins the encyclical’s own argumentation with an interpretation of GS’s notion of responsible parenthood which, Pope Paul writes, “must be rightly understood.” He exposes the concept in three areas, “biological processes… innate drives and emotions…and relevant physical, economic, psychological and social conditions.” “Further,” he adds, “responsible parenthood especially has another and deeper significance pertaining to the moral order which is called objective and is instituted by God,”(2) demanding the observance of a “right order of priorities.” The implication of this “objective moral order” and the “right priorities” is explained immediately. “From this it follows,” (ex quo fit) that couples are not free to choose their actions but, “are held to adapt their actions to the will of God the Creator, which the very nature of marriage and its acts makes clear and the constant teaching of the Church declares.”(3)
Here we find the first explicit statement of HV’s point of departure. The moral problem under consideration will be treated according to the traditional principles of “the nature of marriage and its acts.” It is an expected perspective already indicated by the choice of this methodology in HV,4 which posits the magisterium’s right to interpret “the natural moral law” and specifies its content to be synonymous with the will of God.(4) Examination of paragraph 10 reveals as well that a good deal of weight is placed upon “biological laws governing the faculty of procreation.” The strength of this proposition is referred, in n. 9, to St. Thomas’ treatise on natural law which asserts the priority of the inclination to procreate in determining the precepts of natural law.(5) That inclination is seen as taking precedence here in determining the meaning of marriage and the “right order of priorities” in moral actions.(6)
HV,11 declares “these acts” (i.e., of marriage) to be “noble and worthy,” in the words quoted from GS,49. It then adds that “they do not cease to be licit” if they are foreseen to be infecund involuntarily, since they are still oriented to strengthening the conjugal bond. It appears from this text that the practice of periodic continence is certainly acceptable, as long as the period of infertility is the result of a completely natural occurrence. The text then takes note of “natural laws and rhythms of fecundity” which God determined so that succeeding births will be spaced, again placing a great deal of faith in the biological order of the generative faculties.
Immediately following this, the paragraph ends with one of the most important statements of the encyclical.
Nevertheless the Church, while reminding men to observe the precepts of the natural law, which is interpreted by her constant teaching, teaches that it is necessary that any use of marriage whatsoever remain destined in itself to the propagation of human life.(7)
This key proposition has been interpreted in many ways, but our interest here is to determine its precise meaning according to the encyclical itself. This becomes clear in the next two paragraphs, but a few remarks can already be made in regard to the reasoning so far. It is worth noticing that although Part II of HV begins by recalling principles of christian marriage, the proper moral reasoning shifts from marriage itself to the marriage act. This begins in HV,10 with the emphasis on biological processes and is highlighted here in the key proposition.(8) It is also quite specifically stated that fundamental to the particular issue in question, the observation of natural law precepts is a sine qua non for any officially sanctioned moral approach. The “natural laws and rhythms of fecundity” are said to be the direct creative work of God and are treated as if they were immutable.(9) They effectively prescribe the bounds within which any action can be performed. Finally, a question may be posed with regard to the engagement of infertile coitus. If it is licit on the condition that the foreseen infertility does not proceed in any way from the will of the spouses (10) how far can one accept the anti-conception intention of those employing periodic continence?
HV,12 states that the immediately preceding teaching “is based upon the indissoluable connection, established by God…between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning which are both present in the marriage act” (emphasis added).(11) The reason, it continues, is that,
because of its intimate structure, the act of marriage, while joining the husband and wife in the closest bond, makes them apt for generating new according to laws inscribed in the very nature of man and woman.(12)
It becomes clear here what is meant by coitus being “destined of itself to the propagation of life.” The physiological structure of intercourse, the process of insemination, is the normative quality applied to the moral judgment. HV does not speak of “acts of procreation” but the act destined in itself (per se destinatus) to procreation and that which makes the spouses suited for (idoneos) generating new life. Furthermore, the following sentence affirms that each essential quality (utra eiusmodi essentialis ratio), called the unitive and procreative, must be present for the act to retain its meaning. Such definitive propositions, made about every act of marital coitus without reference to any result of conception and within the entire context of HV, 10-17, indicate that the central criterion for the moral evaluation of conjugal sexual relations remains the performance of complete, unimpeded coitus terminating in the deposit of male sperm in the female genital tract,(13) irregardless of whether a given act is known beforehand to be fertile.
HV,13 notes that a true act of love cannot be forced on one partner by the other. It then returns to its affirmation that the act of mutual love must not be detrimental to the faculty of propagating life and ties this obligation directly to particular laws intended by the Creator and Author of life.(14) It then issues the first condemnation of contraception by stating that to use this divine gift (the act of mutual love) “depriving it even partly of its meaning and end” is repugnant both to the nature of man and woman and to the will of God.(15) An argument added for support here is that man does not have unlimited dominion either over his body or over his procreative powers as such “since by their very nature they are oriented to the propagation of human life.”(16)
This paragraph, then, is a kind of recapitulation of the whole argument. God created the procreative faculty according to natural laws which are evident in an examination of the structure of the sexual act. The fulfilment of that act, the process of insemination, is oriented to fertilization and the generation of children. To frustrate that process in any way is considered wrong not because it avoids the birth of a child but because it goes against nature (the natural law) which is equivalent to the will of God. It does not matter whether or not a particular act is potentially fertile for it is the structure of the act which is normative.(17)
Paragraph 14 of the encyclical contains the three major negative pro-positions based on what it calls the “first principles of the human and christian doctrine of marriage.”(18) HV condemns abortion and sterilization, and “excludes” (item respuendus est) any action before, during or after intercourse that seeks to prevent procreation.(19) Since this includes “any action” done as a means or as an end, and because the use of contraceptive drugs is usually referred to as sterilization by the magisterium, specifically condemned in the same paragraph, such practice is also ruled out by the encyclical. The simple use of the verb respuere here is perhaps less harsh than the previous teaching on the matter which added the connection with grave sin to the teaching. But it must be noted that the same verb is used, along with the adverb omnino, in the condemnation of abortion two sentences earlier. Also, in HV,16 it is repeated that direct contraception is “always illicit.”(20) The thinking of Pope Paul seems quite clear on the matter. Although pastoral considerations encouraged many commentators to emphasize the soft tone of this position, it appears that the matter at hand was considered to be a serious one and the condemnation was intended to be complete.
The second part of HV,14 deals with the moral argumentation that was sometimes put forth (by the Birth Control Commission) to justify the use of contraception in certain circumstances. Pope Paul denies that the argument of the lesser of two evils can be used in this case because it is never lawful to do something “which of its very nature contradicts the moral order”(21) to promote a good. The reasoning evident here is that classically applied to the case of the double effect, and the observation is made that one cannot perform a moral evil to bring about: a good, no matter how serious the reasons.(22) “As a consequence” (Quapropter), continues the text, “it is in every case an error to judge that the conjugal act, intentionally deprived of its fecundity, and so intrinsically dishonest, can be absorbed into a whole marital life of fecund relations.”(23) While this statement textually flows from the application of the lesser evil argument in the moral evaluation of contraception, it has merit as an argument in its own right which became evident in the reactions it received. The totality principle was applied by the Commission in its final report independently of the lesser of two evils argument but was not treated as such in HV. The designation of acts of contraception as intrinsece inhonestum constitutes the classification of a specific act, completely independently of any intentions or circumstances, and is fully in keeping with the overall moral perspective of the encyclical’s argumentation.
The three following paragraphs, 15, 16 and 17 deal with the related but independent issues of therapeutics, periodic continence and evil consequences. These will be exposed and discussed below, but are not necessary here to understand HV’s evaluation of contraception. That evaluation, we hope, can now be understood entirely within the bounds of the encyclical’s own reasoning: God made all things in such a way that the order of creation embodies His personal will. This constitutes the natural law inherent in the nature and structure of things and acts. The analysis of that nature and structure reveals an objective moral order which must be observed in order to follow the will of God. According to that order, the conjugal sexual act has an intrinsic orientation to procreation which may not be violated without perpetrating something which is intrinsically dishonest and which cannot be justified according to the principle of totality. Although it is foreseen that every act of coitus is not fertile, the notion of conjugal relations being oriented to procreation lies in an analysis of their structure which reveals the act to be “destined in itself” (i.e., by nature and structure of the physical process) to fertilization and generation. The substance of this teaching can be further appreciated if one were to consider the evil consequences which would flow from its denial. But one may still have recourse to a correct use of therapeutics for non- contraceptive purposes, or periodic continence for limiting the number of children.
The general and theological reaction to HV, although very often broad in character, usually touched upon one or more of the specific propositions indicated above. We will now examine these arguments individually, attempting to synthesize the observations and reactions with a view toward the wider context of which HV is only a part. The encyclical entered a period of ferment in scientific and pastoral theology and set out to reassert a traditional moral methodology which was being challenged or at least re-thought. Those factors should form part of the general understanding of the entire HV event.
II. The arguments of HV: exposition and critique
A. Natural law
There is probably no other concept in moral theology which has come under as much scrutiny during the past twenty years as that of the natural law. Beside the theological discussion, advances and reflections in the scientific and philosophical fields have contributed much to man’s changing awareness of himself and his world. This has led to a change in natural law thinking from the human sciences to the legal profession to the moral issues which have traditionally been handled by an appeal to supposedly self-evident principles. The result has been not only a continual widening of what natural law may signify but also a more critical evaluation of what it does not and cannot answer for specific legal and moral issues. While some contemporary thinkers are definitely moving away from natural law arguments, at least in name if not in content, however, the debate is far from over. (24)
It was against this background that HV was written and promulgated. The fact that Pope Paul chose to express himself entirely in terms of natural law and the church’s traditional understanding of that approach to JJ; moral questions while not taking account of recent developments in that area was itself a cause of the difficulty encountered in his encyclical’s reception. Even the fathers of Vatican II were cautious about those traditional approaches and significantly omitted conclusive appeals to the natural law in their Pastoral Constitution, GS. In contrast, HV clearly rests the substance of its supportive arguments on classical natural law theory, a fact that a great number of commentators recognized and reacted to. But the interpretations and evaluations of the encyclical’s position were hardly univocal.
A first, terminological observation concerns the meaning of the word “nature” in HV. Gustave Martelet distinguishes three possible meanings for nature as the physical world, the things and laws which govern action in that world and the concept of human nature which refers as well to man’s transcendence and condition.(25) The encyclical, he writes, deals with man on the third level which is symbolically distinct from the purely biological. But in his later argument he points out that the second meaning must be absorbed into the third, thus effectively destroying his own claims and acknowledging that HV reverts back to the physical world for its basic premises.(26) Dietrich von Hildebrand claims two concepts of nature in HV related to the factual order and the level of significant relations implying values.(27) To intervene in the first can often be reasonable, but the second represents the direct will of God which cannot be violated without the sin of irreverence. The encyclical, he writes, sees all artificial birth control as a violation of the second level because it deprives new life.(28) Gregory Baum, on the other hand, sees HV’s use of nature to be equivocal. The concept of human meaning is mixed with the biological processes in such a way that the two seem to become fused, forgetting that the moral norm is based on what man “is and is to be.”(29)
Even the most fundamental, interpretations, then, read the encyclical in different ways. To appreciate the reaction to HV, however, it is necessary to understand its own argumentation. In light of the exposition given above, it is clear that Pope Paul understood the natural law as an unambiguous design inherent in creation as an expression of the direct will of God (11V, 10). This logically implies two areas of discussion, the methodological problem of knowing the natural law and the more specific precision of its content. The second of these will be dealt with below as relating to the matter of an “objective moral order.”
The natural law tradition has its origins in Western thought long be-fore the beginning of Christianity. The Stoic, concept of living in harmony with nature was an important ethical idea from the third century BC and remained influential at least until the second century AD„ Natural law theory, a fundamental idea in Greek philosophy and a cornerstone of the ! Roman system of justice, was adopted in christian thought as early as the writings of St. Paul. Later in the church, the evolving forms of natural law thinking were more closely related to the legal forms of the Roman jurists because of the eclipse of Greek philosophy in the West. In christian thinking, God was the ultimate law giver. The recognition of God as Creator and the idea that creation itself exhibited a given order which was discernible by rational investigation provided a source of ethical wisdom that both transcends positive law and supplements revelation.(30) The elaboration of natural law theory in this tradition was part of the writings of the fathers, but it achieved its greatest importance in the middle ages during the blossoming of the great scholastic treatises. With the coming of the reformation and the proliferation of discordant religious and ethical teachings, the substance of Catholic teaching was consolidated under the watchful eye of the official magisterium. Accordingly, the interpretation of natural law theory became subject to the approval of church authority. The final step in this development, in which the magisterium actually became the interpreter of the natural law, remains a problem of contemporary theology and has not been adequately explained either by official teaching or by theologians who accept the assertion.
In HV, Pope Paul asserts the right of the magisterium to interpret the natural law but does not elaborate on his method of doing so. The question arose, therefore, whether he was claiming an insight into rational morality available to all men or was offering something beyond reason’s capabilities. Some defenders of the encyclical tended to the latter position(31) while those more attuned to the nuances of the tradition were more cautious.(32) A major form of argument reasoned that if one accepts the logical meaning of natural law as that which is found in creation, then . it follows that it can only be understood with a basis of empirical evidence which is available to, if not seen by, all men. Without that foundation, it would have been useless within the historical context from which it arose, namely, as a ground for universally knowable and applicable norms. The church, then, even in the exercise of its official magisterium, must justify its use of the natural law before men and recognize that its explanation involves concepts and patterns that are often better understood by those more familiar with them.(33) It must, also be careful not to make the invocation of the natural law the sole preserve of the Roman Catholic Church.(34)
HV,4 notes that this papal teaching is “based on natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation.” Such an approach appears to reverse the traditional sequence in order to legitimize the encyclical’s specific interpretation of natural law and reserve its understanding to the magisterium. This would result in a hybrid which would not in fact fall within the bounds of “natural morality” at all but would postulate a meaning superadded to rational inquiry. Charles Curran compares this to a variation of the problem of nature and grace that implies a simplistic concept of two distinct levels, that of the purely natural and that of the supernatural added on, both of which possess their own integrity and finality.(35) The position of the encyclical, he writes, is one of “both-and” which implies a basic duality in moral thinking. HV itself admitted no Separation of the two and put forth its single, official interpretation as one still available to all men. “We believe that men of our time are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason,” states para. 12. But there is also an important connection made between the conclusions formulated in the encyclical and the express will of the Creator. If the data of nature are available to all men, it seems to say, the interpretation of that data remains the preserve of the magisterium, presumably because of its role in preserving revelation.
This form of argument implies a special insight into the will and the intention of the Creator. At the same time, it presupposes a very specific notion of creation itself and God’s relation to it. The church’s tradition has quite literally rejected the idea of a mechanistic God (37) or one so closely identified with nature as to border on pantheism. But the natural law reasoning found in HV seems to posit a point of view that has existed independently of a theology of a personal God. This could be a real danger because the method used appears to combine two incompatible premises: the appeal to a strictly rational assessment of the order of reality and a religiously sanctioned interpretation of creation which must be accepted on faith irrelevant to one’s assessment of the data of reason. Nevertheless, the close association made between the law of the gospel and the natural law by the encyclical denies that the two can be separated.
In sum, what HV expects it readers to accept is that while natural law certainly is available to all men, only the official interpretation of the magisterium in this area can be considered the correct one. It may be considered a major problem of the encyclical that this premise was stated without any real substantiation. In view of the reactions, the fact still remains that nature and its “laws” can be interpreted in various ways. The specific interpretation given in HV was considered to be synonymous with what it termed the “objective moral order” dictating a right order or priorities. We can classify this as the content of the natural law employed by the encyclical, a more specific problem to which we can now turn.
B. Objective moral order
The specifics of HV’s understanding of natural law are identified by the encyclical with the intentional will of God.(38) According to its reasoning, immutable laws can be determined from an analysis of creation, laws which reflect back upon the mind of the Creator and thus constitute a divine sanction. With respect to the question at hand, the sexual faculty of man is said to be ordered by laws discernible from its nature and structure. Its nature points to the meaning and end (39) of sexuality (the act of marriage, the sexual act, etc.) as procreation and will be discussed below as its intrinsic orientation. Its structure refers to the physical process of sexual intercourse.
The reasoning behind the encyclical was classical and did not need to be repeated. Briefly, it argues that the physical characteristics of male and female are such that genital sexual functions can be readily understood as to their intended activity and proximate purpose. The end of sexual activity is coitus and the purpose of coitus is insemination which “naturally” (if repeated often enough without intervention) leads to fertilization. The premises here are also classical. All things have an end or purpose for which they exist and which are intended by the one who made them, here the Creator. To thwart that end or use a thing for a purpose for which it was not intended is to go against the will of its maker, in this case God. To discern the purpose of hinges in creation, therefore, is to know the intention of God and his moral will. On that basis, the encyclical puts forth its teaching as an enunciation of the objective moral order, resting in the will of the Creator of the physical universe and independent of man’s intentions.
There seems little need to defend the idea that genital sexual characteristics are well suited for insemination which may or may not be fertile. But a problem arose for some observers in the fact that HV identified the structure of this physiological activity with a moral principle. It was objected, for instance, that nature itself is a process of alteration and adaptation; even if one could discern one purpose of a given function, it could neither be said that this was the exclusive purpose intended by the Creator nor established to be the most primary one.(40) Indeed it is questionable whether nature itself is univocally “goal-oriented,” for the same function can play many different roles which are not always obvious.(41) The normativeness of the physical process m this case presents a particular problem in that it is applied only to humans whereas the general principle is assumed to apply to the whole of the natural order.(42) The selectivity of application appeared to be specifically aimed at bypassing the intentionality argument proposed by the Commission.
The desire to set out moral principles which were “objective” was linked to the nature of HV’s overall act-centered morality. If a given act could be defined as normative, then other questions such as masturbation and homosexuality could be easily resolved,(43) as well as this one. on contraception. But the application of this approach, centered on the structure of coitus, to the area of marital sexuality was unfortunate. One reason is that the entire notion of natural coitus tends to become an exclusively male function. The role of the woman becomes completely passive and the moral judgment depends entirely upon how and where the male achieves orgasm.(44) Another is that the basis for the evaluation completely ignores non-coital sex. Guy M. Bertrand. notes that the traditional teaching permitted all conjugal sexual activity, including amplexus reservatus as long as no orgasm took place – an outlook he describes as “profoundly unnatural.”(45) All activity was not, of course, positively valued, but the fact is that it carried no real, moral significance if there was no male ejaculation involved, at least for the married couple. Such reasoning tends to reduce all of sexual morality to a sadly non-human level, divorcing acts from intentions and purpose from meaning.
A core problem with HV’s desire to find a single, unassailable norm for judging contraception was its attempt to afix divine laws to the nature of simple, physical acts. GS spoke of acts of conjugal love and acts of the human person, but HV reduces its concern to physical data, the observance of which is a sine qua non for any moral judgment (HV,10).(46) While this may seem acceptable to the magisterium in application to the strict area of sexual morality, the positing of such a methodology could be disastrous in other questions of moral theology. If the assertion that the physical structure of the natural order constitutes an untouchable, objective hierarchy of moral priorities were applied to questions of, for instance, social morality, one could easily see the difficulty. Past ethical systems employed such a methodology to justify slavery and condemn democracy – a perspective which constituted more of an “ideology” than a morality.(47)
The reference to an objective morality per se is, in a certain sense, the task of continuing inquiry in ethical philosophy and moral theology. But the method employed in this case by the encyclical, identifying moral norms with a physiological process, perpetrates a basic dualism in fundamental moral methodology which tends to isolate sexual ethics from the rest of human value judgments.(48) While this dualism may be articulated for the most part only by scientific theologians, it leads to a confusion on the level of the church’s general moral teaching which is spontaneously sensed by members of the church to be inconsistent.(49)
C. Intrinsic orientation
While the norms of the objective moral order are closely related, in HV, to an analysis of the physiological process of coitus, their final justification rests in the assertion that the very nature and purpose of human sexuality is intrinsically oriented to procreation. This is attributed both to the nature of sexuality in general – “in nexu indissolubili nititur… inter significationem unitatis et significationem procreationis” (HV,12) – and to the achievement of the particular act – “necessarium (est) quilibet matrimonii usus ad vitam humanam procreandam per se destinatus permaneat” (HV,11).(50) To put this in the most blunt terms, “sex is about babies”.(51)
The principle involved here is an extremely important one. Following a kind of paraphrase of GS, HV,9 posits the essential characteristics of conjugal love: it is fully human, total, faithful and exclusive and creative of life. By extension, these elements must also be applied to the whole of marital activity, and the encyclical siezed upon the last of them to reaffirm the fundamental meaning of sexual relations to be their connection with procreation. Prescinding for the moment, however, from the fact that HV demands the realization of this value in each and every act (of coitus), it would seem safe to say that there is virtually total agreement on the principle being affirmed. There is no responsible theologian who denies that, ultimately, sexual activity must be connected with man’s procreative potential. And although some will admit cases in which the possibility of fertility must be completely ruled out, still the principle remains, if only from the fact that it is being here and now circumvented. It is therefore unjustifiable to assume that the suspension of possible fertility will inevitably lead to the acceptance of purely recreational sex.(52)
While some defenders of the encyclical identify with its insistence that every single act must embody a procreative finality,(53) others also wrote in more global terms about the principle as it applies to the whole of sexual activity. Guy de Broglie bases almost his whole argument on what he calls the “primordial finality of sex as procreative,”(54) and Christian Duquoc carries this all the way to assert that the nature of conjugal love demands an obligation to procreate.”(55) Still others introduce nuances into the argument that went beyond the act-centered perspective. Martelet writes of the “eternal fecundity” of love(56) and states that the “indissoluble link” of love and procreation is not absolute but conditional; (57)and Kevin T. Kelly is quite specific in placing the finality in the faculty and not in the act.(58)
Most all of these attempts to confirm the intrinsic orientation of sexuality to procreation deal on the level of principle and recall the fundamental, theological premise that the entire meaning of sexual relations must include a reference to their divinely created and humanly knowable potential for creating new life. But, like the encyclical, most all theological reflection connected this orientation to the twofold meaning of sexuality: the unitive and the procreative. This idea, borrowed directly from the contemporary theology of marriage, most especially that of GS, represents a significant achievement of theological development which generally escaped both Pope Paul and the vast majority of reactions to the encyclical. HV puts itself forth as the “constant teaching of the church.” Yet, as Victor Heylen pointed out,(59) the “indissoluble link” is hardly traditional in church teaching. The love aspect of marital sexual relations is a relatively recent development, the appreciation of which has substantially changed the core of the teaching on marriage.(60) It might even be considered that the general teaching now demands the achievement of two purposes. HV,13 itself admits that a conjugal act which is forced on a partner “is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order.(61) There was at least one attempt in the reactions to exploit this idea to justify the use of contraception by a wife who no longer felt capable of having more children but was being obliged by her husband to engage in coitus which may be fertile.(62) That argument accomplishes very little in respect to the healthy and loving marriage relationship, yet it does point up the fact that the question itself was immersed in an often oversimplified complex of genuine values.
Acceptance of the principle that marital sexuality is intimately bound up with procreation, however, did not prevent the teaching of the encyclical from being criticized. It. is observed, for instance, that it is one thing to state the “laws of nature” while quite another to demand their absolute observance. For even the purest laws of physics admit of circumstances and competition of other laws which are just as valid.(63) Furthermore, the simple existence of a “law” does not contain the idea that it cannot be circumvented. It has been argued that the sexual faculty is only one of many physical attributes of man, most of which are allowed to be interfered with when there is a good reason.(64)
In short, it is the inviolability of the biological process-procreation connection which was not considered to be proven.(65) A principle argument in this line notes that nature itself has seen fit to separate the two, in the words of the encyclical, “by natural laws and rhythms of fecundity” (HV,11).(66) If man can, through his reasonable initiative, use his sexual faculty for the truly human purpose of expressing love, his temporary suspension of its potential fertility does not really deny the pro-creative meaning (67) but constitutes an advance in humanizing creation.(68) Advocates of this position generally maintain the principle of sexuality’s procreative meaning but understand its application to be aimed at the totality of conjugal relations. In the words of GS quoted in HV, “marriage and conjugal love are in themselves oriented to the procreation and education of children (HV,9 = GS, 48 & 50, emphasis added), not the specific act. To speak in purely physical terms of the act of coitus is to invest impersonal nature with a goal or orientation which it does not universally exhibit and to mistake a whole for one of its parts.(69)
The intrinsic orientation argument underlying the teaching of HV, therefore, was not in itself a major point of contention. But the interpretation and application of this generally accepted principle caused a number of difficulties in connection with other arguments yet to be seen (especially the principle of totality, the conflict of duties and the lesser of two evils). Since the principle was accepted in theory, it naturally led to further considerations about the status of the human good it postulates.(70) But if the argument is taken too literally, especially if the parallel idea of the “indissoluble connection” is taken to apply to each and every act, it can cause problems even for the inner logic of the encyclical which simultaneously condemns interference in the natural order and permits the intentional use of periodic continence.(71) In light of that latter position, it will be necessary to revaluate HV’s own position with respect to the “intrinsic orientation” of human sexuality. It should already be clear that this orientation could exist only on a general level and that while HV,12’s assertion of an “indissoluble connection” may be admitted on the abstract level of meaning and intention, it could not apply to the concrete possibilities of conception. In fact, the teaching of HV does not in itself demand that all conjugal sexual acts be concretely oriented to procreation (which would be physically impossible and would effectively rule out the intention behind periodic continence) but only that the “natural” structure of human sexuality remains outside the permissible domain of human intervention. What is meant by “procreative meaning” therefore, could be nothing more than the (normative) integrity of the physiological process.
D. Intrinsically dishonest
With the acknowledgement that nature itself does not determine every coital act to be generative, which was obviously understood long before, the biological data showed why it was true, came the need to redefine certain concepts in classical moral theology. This was accomplished rather subtly by shifting the meaning of certain propositions from the overall understanding of sexual intercourse to the meaning of its structure as a physical process. Formerly, sexual relations were justifiable propter solam procreationem – an understanding which a number of fathers of the church considered to exclude infertile coitus, as during pregnancy. The strictness of this prohibition gradually lessened, however, as the notion of a “remedy for concupiscence” gained acceptance and later the aspect of conjugal love in marriage came to be understood as an essential, if secondary, end.(72) Eventually the substance of the teaching identified the procreative meaning of marital sex with the fact that intercourse predisposed the couple, or rendered them “suitable,” for procreation.(73) But the precise meaning of this proposition has been for some time under discussion.
In conjunction with what was stated in the previous section, general theological opinion upholds the fundamental connection between the engagement of conjugal relations and the acceptance of their general orientation toward procreation. But HV appeared to be more specific in its interpretation of this connection, identifying it with every single act of coitus and insisting upon the integrity of the physical process which is determined by the “laws of nature,” the “nature of marriage and its acts” and the “nature of man and of woman.” In light of this, HV states that “a conjugal act which is intentionally deprived of its fecundity is intrinsically dishonest.”(74)
A preliminary question which must be considered is whether the. encyclical is here speaking strictly of those acts believed to be fertile and deliberately frustrated in their natural potency, or is making a more general judgment about any interference in the process of coitus per se, as would be the case when a couple might be in doubt as to actual fertility and sought, for instance, a kind of “insurance” to a general program of periodic continence. This last situation should not be easily dismissed, for it could apply to a large number of cases and was implied to be an acceptable theological interpretation, particularly with reference to “the pill.” (75)
An examination of the text of HV,12 alone would seem to leave itself open to the first interpretation – that deliberately frustrated fertility is the indicated offense – because one could argue that there is no intentional (ex industria) deprivation possible when the thing (actual fertility) is not present. But the proposition here must be read in the context of the entire encyclical which elsewhere is quite specific about retaining the structure of sexual intercourse irregardless of actual fertility. The act designated intrinsece inhonestum, then, is not simply that which avoids fertilization but anything that would interfere with the accomplishment of the sexual act itself, namely, whatever interrupted the physical process of insemination or made certain that it could never result in fertilization. The same para. 14 mentions “that which of its very nature transgresses the moral order” in less direct reference to the same thing.
Surprisingly, the designation intrinsece inhonestum did not attract very much attention in the reactions to HV. This could be attributed to the fact that the context of this statement is not contraception as such and the second part of para. 14 is mainly fashioned to repeat general moral principles. Our interest in the predication of the term, however, is caused by its importance in expressing those same general principles which serve as the foundation of the entire teaching.
The term intrinsece inhonestum is a variation of the classical intrinsece malum and is often translated “intrinsically wrong or evil.” There is an advantage to maintaining the transliteration “intrinsically dishonest,” however, in that it relates to the fact that the thrust of the argument deals with the necessity of observing a given order of nature – to violate that order by using a thing (sexual faculty) while frustrating its purpose (intrinsic orientation) is to act in a way that offends its natural integrity, hence is dishonest. Since the order of nature is taken to infer the will of God, such an offense is against the Creator and can be implied to be sinful. While the encyclical does not mention sin in its moral argumentation (Part II, para. 7-18) the implication could easily be drawn since it is stated that it would be an error to believe that an intrinsically dishonest act can be justified.
The assessment of contraception found in HV is said to be “intrinsic” because its validation rests entirely upon the natural order which is understood to exist independent of human intentionality. (78) This is a traditional category of moral reasoning which was especially popular in the manuals. (79) Certain things were listed as intrinsically evil because by their very nature they offended the Creator (e.g., lying is incompatible with the purpose of speech) or other persons (e.g., adultery was de facto a violation of a contract, and the rights of the marriage partner). But those actions themselves were seen to encompass several standards for action, i.e., they need a context. For the same tradition distinguished between a lie (mendacium) and a falsehood (falsiloquium) and the very definition of adultery involves the notion of injustice. Thus, the concept “intrinsically dishonest” can be interpreted in at least two ways. It can be seen as a judgment on the pure materiality of an act or it could be a qualification attached to acts defined by their human circumstances. It is clear that HV argues along the lines of the first opinion because it twice denies the relevance of any personal intention or other factors in the moral evaluation of contraception. (80) In other words, the fact that “artificial birth control” infringes upon the natural order of things was taken to be a moral category strictly on the ground of the biological data.(81)
Reaction to this reasoning generally led to the discussion of evil in reference to the act of contraception and the problem of drawing a moral conclusion from the natural order. (82) E. Ranwez argues that the very concept of “disorder” cannot be morally relevant because “natural disorders” are all part of a general harmony and “universal order envelops particular disorders.” (83) Even Martelet nuances intrinsece inhonestum noting that “it “does not signify that (contraception) is always the greatest evil possible” or that it is “inexplicable or unpardonable.” (84) For him, the concept means a disorder which, in relation to human behavior, is objective and “never justifiable as a good.” But he unfortunately links his exposition to examples such as infanticide and violence which obscures the issue by introducing other morally relevant factors.
The general silence with which this proposition of HV was received should be considered in light of the fact that the term intrinsece inhonestum has been mostly abandoned by recent theology. Many have considered it to be excessively act-centered and incapable of demonstrating the full meaning of moral decisions because of its divorce from context and circumstances. The “minority paper” of the Commission defended the concept as a rebuttle to what it called “situation ethics.” In their argument, giving up the single-act approach would open the door to incorporating contraceptive pre-marital coitus into the totality of later marital relations. Considering the fact that the encyclical’s use of the term occurs precisely in the context of excluding the totality argument, there may have been some connection between the two. In any case, the choice of the designation was a clear indication of the manner of approach employed by HV.
E. The argument of totality
A major argument put forth by those advocating a change in the church’s teaching on birth control was that of totality. The reasoning was found in the final report of the Commission(85) and could be summarized along the following lines: Conjugal love is fundamentally oriented to, among other things, procreation. But this orientation is a characteristic of marriage as a whole and should not be applied to individual acts. Thus the moral evaluation of sexual acts must be carried out in view of the general character of marital relations. If there is an overall openness to fecundity, the principle of procreation is affirmed, whiles-individual acts which seek to avoid conception are justified by their absorption into the whole. The argument does not consider it relevant to judge the single act purely on the merit of its natural structure but does, nevertheless, apply “objective criteria” to individual acts of contraception.(86)
This argument is first raised in para. 3 and then unequivocally rejected by HV,14 where it is said to be an erroneous way of thinking.(87) The reason given in the same paragraph is that it is never permitted to do an evil thing so that good may come about (non facere mala ut eveniant bona), and contraception was designated to be intrinsece inhonestum, which in the mind of the author rules out its use in any circumstances whatso¬ever. Further, there is an indirect judgment that this argument constitutes a misuse of the real principle of totality applied traditionally. HV,17, in referring to the limits on man’s power over his body, recalls the principle as set forth by Pius XII to govern such possibilities.(88)
An attentive reading of HV and the arguments which preceded it does reveal that there are actually two principles present, and a reference to the encyclical’s reactions introduces a third argument as an interpretation of the traditional approach. The three can be briefly summarized as A, B and C. Argument A is the traditional “principle of totality” put forth by Pius XII in the 1950’s. It reasons that the human body – as a physiological organism – can be viewed as an integrated whole. If the malfunction of one part of the organism threatens the whole, then therapeutic treatment (surgery, pharmacotherapy) can be employed for the benefit of the whole. The totality of the organism justifies the manipulation or excision of the diseased or malfunctioning part. This argument is limited to pathological or inhibitory cases and cannot be applied to a well functioning part of the body such as the sexual organs (as in the case of direct sterilization) or pregnancy (even if related complications may threaten the health of the mother).
In contrast to this, argument B should probably not be called a “principle of totality” because it deals neither with the health of the organism nor with the specific physical acts. Rather, this is the reasoning outlined above as found in the Commission’s report that applied a principle (intrinsic orientation of sexuality to procreation) to the totality of acts of marriage. (89) The use of the term here is possibly a misnomer which led to confusion and caused some to reject the argument outright purely on the grounds that it deviated from the traditional interpretation.(90) But we must still judge whether this is applicable to another form of the teaching on marriage.
Thirdly, argument C is an interpretation of A which applies the idea of an individual’s totality to his spiritual, psychological and social dimensions as well as his physical being. According to this theory, the possibility of conception could pose a threat to the person’s well-being on the wider scale (e.g., spouses not being psychologically capable of supporting a new birth) thus justifying the use of contraception (human intervention) for the sake of the whole person. (91) While this argument seems at first sight to deviate from A, it can be argued, successfully I think, that it may already have been incorporated into the general understanding of the magisterium’s interpretation.(92)
A fourth use of the word totality can be mentioned here which does not relate to any principle as such but seems to be a restatement of the “indissoluble connection” idea. Simply, it says that any given act of coitus is a totality in itself and to violate any of its parts (ends) is to invalidate the meaning of the act. Contraception (including temporary sterilization) robs the act of its totality and thus makes it incapable of achieving any of its ends, including the expression of love.(93) This was a popular alternative approach for defending the conclusions of HV. At least one author takes this too far by insisting on the need for a procreative intention m every act (94) – an argument which would seriously undermine the use of periodic continence.
The encyclical names B (HV,3) and rejects it (HV,14) while restating A to be the only valid use of the principle of totality (HV,17; it is also invoked in n. 19 to para. 15 on therapeutic means). It is unfortunate that it did not deal directly with argument. C, but it would seem safe to assume that this, too, would be rejected because “an evil cannot be used to bring about a good” (HV,14), and because the appeal to artificially ordering conception for the. sake of higher values is also precluded (HV,16). However, in placing a great deal of weight on Pius XII’s interpretation of A, Pope Paul uses an argument of dubious value because the traditional formulation already admits of a good deal of development. An important premise of A is that without the presence of a genuine necessity (provided by this same principle) “mutilation” is forbidden. The relatively recent phenomenon of organ transplants has changed that, outlook and effectively silenced the presumption that man may not interfere with his physical being when it is healthy and well-functioning. In the case of healthy, living donors for transplants, some have invoked the “higher” principle of charity and greatly stressed the relevance of intention and circumstances in deciding this case of objective mutilation.
John M. Farrelly has used a similar reasoning to re-define the “totality” of both the sexual act and the aggregate of marital relations.(95) If the acts of the spouses are oriented to a good, he reasons, it would be wrong to forget the broad meaning of the good they support, namely, the “family good.” A principle argument here is the duality of interpretation given to the contraception and transplantation questions: if motive is important for one, why is it irrelevant for the other? (96) Farrelly does not place the burden of the moral decision on the motive, but invokes the circumstances of needing to protect the entire good of human acts and redefines the meaning of this particular act in a wider complex of values. Ultimately, his basic point of argumentation is that the disorder of contraception is a physical evil which in other moral questions has been known to be tolerated for a sufficient reason. His reasoning follows the pattern of C but he defines totality in such a way that the existence of the responsibility of the conjugal unit must serve to define the meaning of the “marriage act.”
In relation to argument B, put forth by the Commission and rejected outright by HV, the reactions to the encyclical had little, to say other than that there was a conflict between two separate methodologies. Pointing out the divergence between A and B or simply caricaturing B (97) did not contribute to a real understanding of the reasoning which may not, in the long run, have been very different from that of the encyclical. While the conclusions of the two were very different, they shared at least one premise, namely, that the fecundity of the marriage relationship must be understood in its overall totality – and it is only that totality which justifies specific acts aimed at circumventing fertility. In HV, the practice of continence and avoidance of procreation is only permissible for “serious reasons” (serlis causis, HV,10). Presumably, if there are no “just causes” (iustae causae, HV,16) for limiting births, there is an obligation to procreate, or at least to be “open to the transmission of life.” But the important premise here is that if a reason is necessary to avoid having children there must be a basic attitude of openness to procreation to which one returns if and when the just causes no longer exist. (98)When this is added to the notion that even when practicing periodic continence “each and every act of marriage must remain destined in itself to procreation,” one is left, with the idea of some totality governing the whole of conjugal sex¬ual activity – the same type of totality spoken of in argument B. Therefore, acts which are specifically destined to avoid conception (keeping track of ovulation cycles, temperature taking and recording or inspecting cervical mucus) are morally justifiable not because they follow the order of nature alone (99) but because they are part of an overall attitude which is basically open to the transmission of life – and are thus absorbed into the totality of all (basically fecund) marriage acts.
Argument B differs drastically from HV in that it allows specific acts of contraception which are morally evaluated in reference to the circumstances of the entire marriage. This conclusion was possible by abandoning the need to judge the single act on the merit of its physical integrity and the presupposition that the acts being spoken of were part of the entire conjugal relationship. Nonetheless, the formulation of the argument by the Commission should not be seen as an innovative one. In its premises and point of departure, its reasoning about marriage being fecund ” in its totality” is a traditional argument and an important part of the teaching on periodic continence. (100)
F. Evil consequences
HV,17 is, in a way, a precis of Chapter III (sect. 3) of the Commission’s “minority working paper” and reflects the alleged report of the “Committee of Eight. (101) It is not meant to add to the moral reasoning about contraception but forms a kind of supportive argument for the validity of the encyclical’s teaching. It is a kind of apology for the entire encyclical and provided some insight into the rationale behind Pope Paul’s decision that the “traditional teaching” could not change.(102) In comparison with the “minority paper” it is mild in content, but the basic ideas are the same and the attitude of both documents exposes more of the fundamental theology which inspired HV.
Pope Paul asks “reasonable men” to consider the consequences which would follow the acceptance of artificial birth control. He lists three possibilities: that the way would be open to marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards, that man would lose respect for woman, and that governments could claim the right to impose contraception. The reasoning used here has already been noted to include some curious ideas.(103) Further, because this type of argument proves nothing and rather deviates from the sense of the text which has been developing the “constant teaching” of moral principles, its presence in the encyclical was disturbing. Taken on its own, HV,!7 seems to assume that the teaching could have been changed. Its appeal to consequences subtly undermines the supposed absoluteness of the previous paragraphs which in itself should never have considered other possibilities. But what it does seem to be saying is that contraception itself is not really so terribly evil, but can be seen as evil if one considers where it leads.
The argument from consequences itself received more ridicule from commentators than it did serious recognition. P.J. McGrath calls it “superfluous” and characterizes the reasoning as “reverse consequential-ism.(104) It is said that the argument “is not proved” or “does not carry conviction.”(105) It is also said to be “motivated by cultural pessimism” and to “betray a deep distrust of man”(106) as well as being written from a completely male-oriented point of view that exhibits a poor understanding of women.(107) The one exception which did have some impact was the concern expressed over government imposition of contraception. But this idea was mentioned elsewhere in the encyclical (HV,23) and the reasoning used in para. 17 is singularly irrelevant. Governments do not form policies on the grounds of Roman Catholic teaching and it could be speculated that the general teaching of HV might be counterproductive in this area. (108)
Neither is there anything preventing the evil consequences argument being applied to the availability of improved methods of periodic continence. With modern trends moving away from the “artificial” and toward the “natural,” there is reason to believe that rhythm is being employed by the unmarried as well as by spouses. The fact that the teaching of HV could not make these connections is evidence of its highly specified concern for the physical act of intercourse and its inability to see the sexual relation as a human act immersed in a complex of meanings and circumstances.
A more substantive approach to HV,17 must link it to the obvious fear- that was felt by the pope and his advisors that a change in the birth control teaching would have strongly felt implications for the whole of the church’s teaching on sexual morality. To admit contraception is to admit that the possibility of procreation could be intentionally supressed in the sexual relation. The fact that one may wish to (and morally must) add here, “for a sufficient or proportionate reason,” does not remove the fact that a different attitude is achieved – sex has been separated from pro-creation.(109) But has it? If one affirms the principle of a general connection of sexuality to procreation (intrinsic orientation), as noted above, why should the exceptional case invalidate the principle? The only way this would be possible is if one takes the act-centered morality too literally. To permit contraception is to affirm that a sex act is not going to result in conception. To reason that an exception will lead to a new general principle or completely destroy an already existing principle (HV, 17) is completely illogical – unless one believes that the traditional principle is baseless without its reference to the single act.
It seems rather clear that HV is totally committed to this last point of view. Alfons Auer has insightfully penetrated this question to reveal one of the more fundamental ideas which lie behind the entire HV event,(110) Generally, he points out, as did Janssens, that a mistake was made by taking the concrete norms too literally and not allowing them to evolve. The church’s mission is to preach the message of the scriptures, but because it preaches to man, this must involve teaching on the level of an “innerworldly ethic.” To do this, she borrows different ethical-models to explain the specifics of her teaching, yet the two should never be seen as one and the same. Ethical models change, and the process of secularization, says Auer, has effectively removed most of this “subsidiary function” from the church who retains her proper role of a “criticizing function” as she influences the delineation of concrete moral norms but no longer is responsible for making or supporting them.
If we apply Auer’s reasoning directly to HV, we can see one of its proper functions operating in the fact that it lends weight to the proposition that the conjugal relationship is intimately connected with procreation. This is a general principle related both to scripture and to a given understanding of (the created) natural world.(112) Through the course of history, the church has come to rely on different models to elaborate or explain this principle on the pastoral level. One of those models (a variation of natural law) proposed that the truth of the statement can be seen from the fact that sexual organs are designed to achieve conception (eventually being regarded as their only, and later primary, purpose). The problem occurred when the principle and the explanation were thought to be identical: the principle was true because of the physical data. That data had become the “absolute” upon which the entire system rested (not only conjugal morality but, because of the convenience of pastoral application, the whole of sexual morality). To question the inviolability of the physical data is equivalent to denying the absolute of the system. Thus, to admit contraception – to admit that a singular sexual act can be intentionally made infertile – is to abandon the (explanatory model of the) physical norm. Because Pope Paul considered this equivalent to de-absolutizing sexual ethics, it is no surprise that the evil consequences argument was an integral part of his encyclical.
The one sentence para. 15 of HV is devoted entirely to the notion of using means to cure disease even if they are foreseen to indirectly result in infertility. This is a strictly historical reference to the teachings of Pius XII encompassing the principles of totality and double effect. The key phrase is “provided that this impediment (to procreation) is not for any reason directly intended.” (113) The purpose of this statement was a clarifying one, meant to balance the condemnations of the previous paragraph and remind its readers that otherwise valid medical procedures are not ruled out by the encyclical.
The reception of this statement generally followed the lines of the bishops’ reactions: most commentators ignored it, a number took a liberal interpretation and virtually no one went out of their way to point out the strictness of the teaching. Among those who interpret it liberally are those’ who generally defend the substance of HV.(114) Their reasoning incorporated this into the established teaching on periodic continence arguing that since the latter is based on “natural rhythms” and is assumed to be practicable, an irregularity in the rhythms could be treated as a medical problem. Thus, drugs intended to regulate ovulation could be used “therapeutically.” The argument here states that such a procedure merely “insures” the absence of fertility which would be the normal situation of the natural rhythms (HV,11), but it seems futile to deny that the actual infertility is being caused by the human intervention.
This is not a new type of approach, having first been argued by Janssens in 1958 with reference to the post-partum period of lactation.(115) The idea that nature works in one, univocal way, which was an implicit understanding of the encyclical, was considered unrealistic by most moralists. They reasoned that nature should be, if not literally changed, at least helped to function in a predictable (natural?) way. Since predictability is an important part of using periodic continence, it is obviously a highly desired quality. But the extent to which some theologians allowed that the quality be brought about through human intervention tended to stretch the notion of “direct and indirect” nearly beyond recognition.
One of the main factors in this discussion is the so-called principle of double effect, a classical moral argument which has recently come under close scrutiny. Briefly, this deals with human actions which have at least two effects, one “good” and one “evil.” Such an act may be performed under four conditions:
- The thing done must not be evil in itself.
- The evil effect may not be the cause of the good effect (the end does not justify the means).
- The overall intention must be good (the evil effect cannot be directly intended).
- There must be a sufficient reason (the good must be greater than, or at least as great as, the evil).
The question of contraception involves this principle in a number of ways. The argument that it be used to promote the good of responsible parenthood is excluded in HV,14 under propositions 1 and 2. Further analysis of this approach mainly involves proposition 1 and will be discussed further on. The formulation of the therapeutics issue is related to propositions 2 and 3 and involves a definition of what is directly and indirectly willed.
It is permissible, according to the encyclical, to use medical procedures which may have a contraceptive side effect only if this effect is unintended and indirect, i.e., the procedure may not be undertaken so that the result will be infertility. When it is a case of a purely pathological situation (e.g., cancer of the uterus) or a standard medical procedure (e. g., painful menstruation can be alleviated by administering progesterone), there is no problem with the contraceptive side effects being unintended. But a more difficult case arises when it is concluded that pregnancy itself would be a medical problem. If, for instance, a doctor finds that a women could not physically support a pregnancy yet is perfectly capable of conceiving, the reasoning of the encyclical would dictate that the possibility of conception could not be interfered with because this would be using an evil means (contraception, direct sterilization) to bring about a good end (protecting the health of the mother).
If the type of reasoning used in the final case appears to go against basic “common sense,” a related case could further illustrate its lack of proportion. Denis F. O’Callaghan notes that in some of these cases, a doctor could judge a seriously weakened uterus to be pathological and opt for its removal. The performance of a complete hysterectomy in such a case would be acceptable under the principles outlined, but a much simpler procedure of tying the fallopian tubes would be forbidden because it is obviously direct sterilization.(116) The cause of such reasoning is the result of a great deal of casuistry concerning these principles which O’Callagban calls “confusing if not downright dishonest.”(117) But it must also be attributed to some kind of flaw in the system itself or a misappropriation of one or more of its terms.
The presentation of these arguments, it must, be recalled, does not reside in the encyclical itself but is an extrapolation of its fundamental reasoning. HV,15 was not itself directly connected with the question of contraception. However, an examination of the interpretations it received indicates a clear divergence between current theological thinking and the casuistic rigidity still employed by the Vatican in official teaching many years after the encyclical was issued.(118) The application of those theological interpretations would appear to undermine the premises upon which HV is built. But, lest the fundamentals of the teaching be forgotten, such forms of argumentation should not be given too much weight. For if one argues from the difficulties present in the strict application of the therapeutics question to the overall assessment of the issue of contraception, he would be assuming the same precarious ground as the encyclical’s own argument from evil consequences.
H. Periodic continence
It has already been established that HV accepts the notion of regulating birth in principle and at least mentions the idea of responsible parenthood as connected with the possible decision to limit the size of the family. This is nowhere more clear than in HV,16 which acknowledges the intention of the couple to avoid a new birth. In speaking of the difference between the use of periodic continence and artificial means of birth control, Pope Paul writes, “it cannot be denied that in each case the spouses, for acceptable reasons, wish by their mutual and certain consent to avoid a child and certainly have the birth of children minimized (119)
However, while this statement of fact has been used to imply papal approval of the non-procreative intention within the conjugal relationship, one should use caution in interpreting what is meant by the encyclical and be aware of the frame of reference which is being employed here.
There are at least two ways to approach the question of regulating births. The first, much spoken of in current moral theology and implied in GS, begins with the notion of responsible parenthood and postulates the need to undertake the initiative in avoiding conception. This end can be achieved by various means, among which may be total or periodic continence. The second of these we will designate with the term rhythm, implying that it is intentionally pursued as a means to an end. It would not be wrong to say that HV permits the use of this means, but it would be presumptious to believe that the encyclical promotes the practice as a good in itself or considers it anything more than indifferent, morally qualified.
A second approach is truer to that found in the encyclical. HV,10 notes that with attention to “physical, economic, psychological and social Conditions,” a couple could “for serious reasons and while observing the moral precepts decide”(120) not to procreate. Para. 10-J5 then proceed to elaborate upon “the nature of the marriage act” and what is not permitted with respect to human intervention in its natural structure. It is not until para. 16 that the notion of periodic continence is even mentioned.(121) But even this paragraph cannot be said to recommend the practice wholeheartedly. What is said is that if the “just causes” indicate a spacing of births, it is permitted for the spouses to follow the natural powers immanent in the generative faculties, in having marital intercourse during exactly those times which are infertile (conceptione vacent), and thus control the birth of children in such a way that does not at all offend the moral teaching which we have just exposed.(122)
Following upon everything which has gone before, particularly upon the formulation of the question for response in the first part of the paragraph,(123) this text simply affirms that it is morally licit to take account of “natural powers” and that it is permitted to engage in non-fertile intercourse.(124) The reference to controlling births is principally linked (ita…ut) to the fact of its licitness, which simply restates the teaching of Pius XII.
The third section of HV,16 contains two other references to periodic continence. On noting the consistency of the teaching, the church is said to “consider that it is permitted for spouses to utilize the calculation of times which are without fecundity”(125) but does not go beyond the notion of the lawfulness of this practice. Then, in explaining the difference between this and “those things which directly exclude conception,” the text says that “in the first case, spouses legitimately use a faculty, given to them by nature,”(126) again affirming that the practice of engaging in strictly infertile coitus is permissible. The reference in both these statements are usually taken to be an outright approval of rhythm, and in terms of official teaching rhythm could hardly be condemned. But a closer examination shows that the end of regulating conception is not per se achieved by engaging in infertile coitus. Rather, the means to this end is abstinence from (fertile) intercourse.(127) The difference, as fine as it may be, is important with respect to attitude. “Rhythm,” as noted above, is a positive thing, motivated by the (assumed) responsible intention to avoid conception without totally abandoning intercourse. The assumption here is that intercourse itself is distinct from the intention to be “open to transmitting life.” The second perspective, here designated periodic continence is based on a negative idea; the only (moral) way to avoid conception, according to the encyclical, is through abstinence from sexual intercourse, though it is also morally licit to determine and engage in non-fertile coitus. If a couple is fortunate enough to be aware of the fact that a given act of coitus will not be fertile, this act is permitted. If the times of infertility are predictable, their continence can then be periodic – but the emphasis remains upon the factor of continence.
The distinction, some might say hair-splitting, proposed here between rhythm and periodic continence, is intended to expose a difficulty which has been present in moral thinking since Pius XII first accepted the licitness of the practice (1951). The question is simple: does the official sanction of periodic continence entail a de facto separation of licit sexual activity and procreation? It may be argued that the majority of authors answer this question in the affirmative. It is my opinion, however, that the encyclical answers it with an unabmiguous “no.”(128) We need only to recall the key statement of HV,11, “every use of marriage whatsoever…” and the repeated connection made in HV,12 between both aspects of conjugal intercourse to see that even when spouses are practicing periodic. continence and are sure that there is no chance of fertilization, they must treat the act of coitus as if it were potentially fertile.
This last notion was far from obvious to those who raised the question of the “intrinsic orientation” in opposition to nature’s own separation of the purposes of coitus.(129) But understanding its significance rests in familiarity with the history of the church’s teaching on periodic continence.(130) The practice was first questioned m the nineteenth century by the official church when the Sacred Penitentiary in 1853 and 1880 permitted a confessor to refrain from disturbing a couple using it lest they turn to the sin of onanism. The following 50 years saw little development on the issue, mostly because medical evidence was so poor and doctors were actually recommending the sterile period to begin in the third week after the beginning of menstruation (when fertility was probably highest). In 1930, new discoveries had been made but were not widely enough known to advance the issue. Pius XI did not deal with periodic continence and in CC simply ruled that intercourse believed to be infertile was still licit as long as its structure remained intact. During the next 20 years, a debate took place in theological writings concerning the licitness of a specific program of periodic continence for the purpose of avoiding conception. It was not until October 1951 that Pius XII’s famous “Address to the Midwives” broadened the criteria for permitting the practice.
Throughout the history of this development, periodic continence was looked upon as an exceptional method applicable only when there were “serious reasons” for not achieving the primary end of marriage. Even Pius XII recognition of the method and the subsequent growth of the use of “rhythm” did not change the overall understanding that children were the first purpose of marriage, and the use of intercourse during the known sterile period was lawful because it served as a “remedy for concupiscence” without denying the primary end. But the issue at hand throughout the controversy and for Pius XII in 1951 was not whether infertile intercourse was permitted, for that was settled in CC.(131) The question for moral consideration was whether intentional (and now, because the fertile period could be known: periodic) continence could be permitted, because it failed to achieve the primary end. The decision of Pius XII ruled that the avoidance of fertile intercourse was permitted for serious reasons, but there was no change m the evaluation of coitus known to be sterile. Ensuing theological debate, however, began to move from the acceptance of infertile coitus toward its positive valuation and to its eventual status as a good in relation to expressing marital love alone. Parallel to this evolution, the entire concept of the ends of marriage (and coitus) was undergoing reconsideration and the concept of responsible parenthood was gaining recognition by more theologians. The climax of this development was the position taken by GS which, as noted earlier, abandoned the notion of primary and secondary ends, evaluated conjugal relations as good m themselves and wholly endorsed the idea of responsible parenthood.
The point of this brief survey is to situate the attitudes which we have designated by the terms “rhythm” and “periodic continence.” The first is based upon a complete, if temporary, suspension of the procreative purpose of sexual intercourse which it seeks to preserve as a good m itself (i.e., as an expression of conjugal love). The second denies that the pro- creative purpose can ever be suspended in sexual relations but evaluates the abstinence from (potentially fertile) intercourse to be licit as long as there are justifying reasons. By the time of HV, most theologians were speaking in terms of rhythm and making assumptions which the encyclical clearly did not. The reactions to this papal statement, therefore, did not always fully understand what was being affirmed, namely, that the acceptance of periodic continence was a juridical decision concerned with the right of a couple to avoid the (primary) procreative end of marriage, that the method was never considered to be foolproof (hence the appeal m HV,24 to men of science to continue their investigations), and most importantly that the designation of the method as “natural” was applied to the fact that the structure of intercourse remained intact while the organism alone (HV,11: naturales leges ac tempora fecunditatis) was directly responsible for the absence of subsequent conception. The only initiative man may morally undertake is to abstain from (potentially fertile) intercourse.
The reaction to HV which labelled periodic continence to be “unnatural,” then, may have been relevant to one view of nature, but it was not specifically addressing the argument of the encyclical. (132). St. John-Stevas referring to periodic continence, writes, “once this is resorted to consciously by the married couple, it is not the rhythms which act ‘of themes’ in preventing birth taking place but their manipulation by the couple.”(133) The point is well taken, but it is evident that this author is speaking of what we call rhythm rather than periodic continence. For at the same place he tries to oppose the notion of “open to the transmission of life” to the use of a period known to be infertile and uses the term “a safe-open period which is something of a semantic and an intellectual monstrosity.” He has borrowed a term, “safe-period,” from modern medicine which the traditional doctrine would probably never use.
More interesting, however, is the question concerning artificial means to regularize and specify the time of fertility.(134) What would happen, in such a case, to the “natural rhythms wisely disposed by God” (HV,11)? This idea is brought up by more than one author but little agreement seems to be reached. At least one of HV’s defenders, Martelet, seems to believe that such a thing is possible through an interpretation of therapeutic means.(135) This author is possibly closer to the encyclical’s notion of periodic continence, admitting the basic artificiality of rhythm as he simultaneously defends the former as natural, but his argument here is tenuous. For, as O’Callaghan points out, it would be nearly impossible to morally distinguish this from the use of steriod drugs.
Arguments which are directly concerned with the problems of rhythm as such, nonetheless, introduce factors which should probably have been taken more seriously by the encyclical. Many doctors still consider the method unreliable even for normally functioning women.(136) To this can be added the fact that it is virtually impossible to use for pre-menopause women.(137)
But even if it can be used successfully, there are very real psychological and interpersonal factors which reveal that very few couples find any one method appropriate for the whole of their married life.(138) Further, its application is limited to those who can genuinely understand how it works, causing its exclusivity to be discriminatory against poor, uneducated and irregular women.(139) Finally, recent controversy over its feasibility and even perfection (Billings method) have led to further research into the results of using rhythm which appears to reveal hitherto unknown side-effects: higher incidence of spontaneous abortion and birth defects.(140)
These and other arguments with respect to the use of rhythm, however, do seem to miss the point that HV does not really recommend it as a “Catholic solution” to the question of regulating births. The encyclical is, rather, a statement of policy on the need to maintain the integrity of the “natural act of marriage.” It does affirm that spouses may, for just causes, abstain from fertile intercourse and it judges coitus believed to be infertile as licit,(141) but its essential point is that every act of sexual intercourse must be “open to life.” While it is probably more to the point to interpret this statement with respect to the biological integrity of the act, it also affirms the idea that even when practicing periodic continence the couple must still be open to the possibility of conception. There is always the million-to-one possibility that a couple could conceive.(142) Keeping that possibility open is also one of the surest arguments for the restriction of intercourse to the bonds of the marital relationship.
This final idea once again points to the larger issues which surround the HV event. The eight topics taken from the encyclical which we have dealt with in this section are all intimately connected with greater issues of fundamental theology and the basic principles which underlie the entire status quaestionis. The traditional teaching of the church on sexual morality, as the author of HV saw it, was a tightly constructed treatise of mutually dependent propositions. To remove one of those theses, or to question its validity, was to bring the entire system into question – hence the argument from evil consequences. More important, however, is the link between the propositions of the encyclical and the wider issues which were absent from this basically pastoral document. When we consider the type of arguments introduced by the reactions of the bishops which mitigated the teaching of the encyclical, we see an implicit, reference to principles of fundamental theology which had apparently not been considered in the encyclical. The tone set by the episcopal statements was reflected in other reactions. Some of these were substantively the same while others, both de-fending and criticizing the encyclical, went beyond the insights of the bishops. We will now consider those arguments which contribute something outside HV’s own perspective.
III. The arguments beyond HV: statement and critique
We will divide the moral considerations which were outside the scope of HV into two general categories, those which parallel the episcopal ideas and those which were somewhat different. The encyclical was not an exhaustive theological treatise and should not be considered as such or criticized because it failed to achieve a goal it never had. However, considering the years of its preparation and the volume of knowledge it could draw upon for its conclusions, it does seem appropriate to introduce factors which were not directly contained in its text. Being attentive to HV’s own reasoning which excluded their consideration, on the other hand, will again aid our understanding of the different fundamental theological perspectives which were operative.
A. Arguments parallel to episcopal reactions
1. The conflict of duties The position of HV with regard to the obligations of responsible parenthood and the need to follow the moral law has already been explained.(144) The encyclical does not admit of any “conflict of duties” principally because it has a clearly defined hierarchy of priorities in which the first need to respect biological laws subordinates all other considerations and because it does not recognize per se any “duty” to limit the number of births. To this we may add the observations of the preceding section on periodic continence which explain that although the intention to engage in exclusively infertile coitus for serious reasons is licit for spouses, the only intentional method for regulating births it considers to be morally acceptable is one based upon abstinence from (fertile) intercourse.
Thus to characterize the situation of the couple as one in which a true and objective conflict of duties exists is to depart from the teaching of the encyclical. In most cases, this divergent perspective is realized because of a different set of assumptions which are employed by the moral argument. Basically, there are three different duties which are relevant to this discussion. The first is the duty to respect the integrity of the act of marriage or, as the encyclical puts it, to observe the moral order. HV considers this to be the primary moral obligation while some theologians do not consider the strictly physical description of this precept to carry a moral connotation.(145) The second duty spoken of is that which considers the limitation of the number of children to be an obligation of responsible parenthood imposed upon the couple under certain circumstances. This idea is clearly found in GS but not in HV other than as a counsel or a legitimate decision of the spouses. At first sight it may not be clear how this could ever come in conflict with the first, especially if one understands the teaching on periodic continence in the encyclical. However, if one adopts the assumptions of the argument favouring rhythm, the problem begins to come into focus. Intimately connected with those assumptions is the third duty, namely, to safeguard the harmony of the marital relationship by not breaking off conjugal intimacy.(146) This is alternately referred to as a duty and a right. The “duty” is characterized toward either the relationship of the spouses themselves (147) or toward the good of the entire family,(148) and understands the spouses to be under an obligation to strengthen and insure the security of the marital bond by opening themselves to the physical (sexual) dimension of their totally human love. To speak of this as a “right” is merely to say the same thing in a positive way: the couple has a right to express their love in every human way appropriate to that end.
The very nature (of marriage) as an unbreakable compact between persons, and the welfare of the children both demand that the mutual love of the spouses, too, be embodied in a rightly ordered manner, that it grow and ripen. (GS,50)
If one accepts the reasoning of HV, it is hard to see how these factors can create a situation of conflict. In the extreme case in which a birth was completely ruled out(149) (e.g., if pregnancy would threaten the life of the mother) and periodic continence was impossible because of an unpredictable ovarian cycle, the moral position of the encyclical would dictate total continence. If that solution was considered impossible by one or both of the spouses, the reasoning might probably admit of a subjective conflict caused by the weakness of the individuals, which would mitigate the guilt of their offense if they decided to use contraception but would not affect the objective (intrinsic) evil of the act.
Not all theologians, however, accepted the teaching of the encyclical or the premises upon which it was based. (150) This was principally the result of an appreciation of the concept of responsible parenthood which was somewhat different from that of the encyclical. Most all authors hold the idea that spouses must procreate responsibly, an idea found in HV as well. But few contemporary theologians were willing to go so far as to call this a “duty” to avoid having children. GS was probably best expressive of this attitude which preferred to leave the matter to the conscience of the couple who were aware of all the relevant factors. If a couple decided that a child should be avoided, obviously the next question concerns the means to this end. We then return to the problem of rhythm vs. periodic continence.
Authur Janssen relates the core of the problem when he points out that the real conflict occurs when one attempts to apply the norms of the encyclical to actual practice.(151) This opens the argument to criticism and from one, strictly scientific point of view would constitute a default, for it does not establish the existence of any objective duty which would conflict with the obligation to observe the moral order. Nor would it seem advisable to attempt to characterize the sexual dimension of a couple’s expression of love in terms even remotely connected with the idea of duty. Yet if one takes the practical situation seriously enough, it would appear to be necessary to accept the data of experience as an integral part of the theological assessment.
Excursus on the conflict of duties as a data of experience
The third “duty” which became evident in surveying the reactions to HV was related to the need to safeguard the harmony of the marital relationship by not breaking off conjugal intimacy. To this should be added, “for an unreasonable length of time,” for it is obvious that every married couple experiences the demand to suspend sexual relations for a number of reasons, be they internal (health, respect for the rights of others) or external (physical separation). But there is a question as to whether it can ever be spoken of as a “duty” to engage in sexual relations, including intercourse. Most couples today would not conceive this question to be one of duty. This is especially true in the Western, developed world, among more educated people, particularly those who have come to value sexuality in a positive way and not simply as an instinctive and concupiscible drive.
There is, therefore, a hesitancy to oppose the perspective present in HV with the idea that it sets up a conflict between leaving intercourse “open to procreation” and allowing a couple to fulfil their relationship of love in a sexual way when a responsible conscience concludes that conception should be avoided. Such an argument would leave one open to ridicule and the accusation (non sequitur) that they believe sex to be a need, that they cannot control their own passions and, in a more traditional vein, that they have equated a right with a duty. A great deal of this has to do, I believe, with the attitude one has toward sex in general and it may not be false to suggest that the perspective which exhibits an open, healthy and loving attitude toward sex is at a distinct disadvantage here.
If we consult the traditional thinking on marriage, we encounter notions such as “rendering the marital debt,” “providing a remedy for concupiscence,” and “the rights and duties of marriage” which includes the juridical idea of each spouse having the exclusive right of the other’s body in sexual relations. Although these concepts are at least partially related to a generally negative valuation of sex, viewed in at least one tradition as a necessary evil, I believe that they contain the idea of a duty to engage in coitus both to fulfil the consumate purpose of marriage (bonum prolis) and to protect the stability of the relationship (bonum fidei). In a perspective that considered adultery to be a ready possibility in the case of diminished marital coitus and looked upon anything worthy of the label “onanism” to be a heinous crime, it would seem impossible to deny that if one spouse requested sexual relations, unless there were justifiable excusing circumstances, the other had an obligation to submit. This may be a less than ideal way to describe the conjugal relationship, but in view of the dangers present for persons considered to be so weak, one simply had to resign themself to the fact that marriage entailed certain duties which were inescapable. Furthermore, the anthropological assumptions of this outlook must be said to include the notion that sexual desire, was an instinctive need. It may not have been “natural” or even “undeniable,” for virginity was always a possibility, but it was at least part of the constitution of the majority of men and women who were urged “to marry lest they burn” (1 Cor 7:9).
Few outspoken and so-called “liberated” or “modern” couples would speak in these terms today. Contemporary Western society has undergone a profound change of attitude toward sexuality, sometimes referred to in a derogatory way as the “sexual revolution,” that no longer considers it a necessary evil or even something which should be avoided in polite conversation. One result of this change is the idea that sex is an important part of the intimate relationship between man and woman, an integral aspect of conjugal life to be freely given and accepted between spouses as one more dimension of their totally human love, embracing both corporeal and spiritual affection. This perspective no longer speaks of conjugal rights and duties with respect to sexual relations for, although one may postulate a need or even a duty to give and receive in a completely human context, it would be offensive to an act of love which is pre-eminently free, to describe it in terms of an obligation or a duty either to perform or submit.
This changed attitude toward the physical expression of marital love is thus at a disadvantage when called upon to establish the basis for a conflict when reason and justice demand a limitation on the number of children they may procreate. While this is true for all couples who have integrated their sex-life to the point where a spontaneous desire to engage in intercourse is considered a gift and a natural part of the love between human persons, it is particularly difficult for those who have not been blessed with the uncommon physiological regularity of ovulation to permit the successful use of rhythm. How could one claim that they are under a duty to express their love through “conjugal intimacy” without being labelled slaves of their passions or pathetic adolescents? Such a charge stems from the idea that sex is something completely unnecessary – a type of euphemism for views that consider sexual behavior as unworthy of man or compromising the spiritual aspect of his nature. Rather, to this we would oppose the idea that sex is good, it is a part of the natural order created by God which can and should be an integral and free part of a healthy relationship. Thus, it is inappropriate to revert to a notion such as that which draws a parallel with rape in the conjugal relation when a husband demands intercourse and the wife fears a pregnancy she judges to be a disaster for herself or her family. Some have used the case to justify the use of contraception as a form of self-defence. But is it really necessary to demand that one spouse be cast in the role of a primitive, self-satisfying brute and the other to negate her own person to the point where she perhaps denies her own sexual desire or succeeds in convincing herself that she is being molested by her spouse?
If one considers the worldwide situation to which HV was introduced, there would probably be more than sufficient grounds for establishing an objective conflict of duties which was based not in the single-minded theological concepts of the encyclical but in the broader spectrum of real, undeniable facts. The majority of the world’s population lives outside the flexible social fabric of developed Western culture, in a world of fixed patterns and rigid social customs. This data of experience cannot be ignored or dismissed as per accidens in any serious theological undertaking. Strong patterns of conjugal life form the rule rather than the exception for an overwhelming number of married couples, not excluding many members of even the more flexible cultures. It seems safe to say that the majority of people still believe that a husband has the right to request sexual relations with his wife who then has an obligation to comply. There is therefore a duty connected with the bonum fidei both in traditional thinking and in the operative ethos of most contemporary cultures. We may call this a duty to avoid jeopardizing the conjugal relationship. While it seems inappropriate to apply this notion to some (parts of) contemporary cultures, and especially to that view of marriage found in GS, it may be necessary to do so in order to carry on a fruitful dialogue with the perspective found in HV.
Therefore, when one speaks of a conflict of duties existing on the practical level, it should not be considered a data irrelevant to a theological interpretation of the matter. The fact is that conscience, rightly formed, can demand that in a given set of circumstances conception must be avoided. This is an experiential and objective datum upon which a couple is compelled to act. It is a duty in the sense that spouses have obligations to themselves, their families and society which may dictate a duty to avoid a (conflicting) good. To say merely that another birth “should” be avoided, as if it were a counsel or simply a preferred course rather than an obligation, is to belittle the rights of others. It is an equally true datum of experience that spouses must preserve the harmony of their relationship, irregardless of whether one characterizes this in terms of mutual self-giving or living up to the demands, the duties, of the marital contract. Finally, it is a theologically relevant fact that the experience of millions of married couples finds the solution offered by the encyclical, periodic continence, to be, for physiological, psychological or aesthetic reasons, inadequate for meeting the demands of daily conjugal life.
End of excursus
The argument of a conflict of duties first found in the statements of the bishops and reflected in some of the theological reactions (which naturally was related to the former in its formation) was met with some critical opposition. At least, one author categorically denied that any conflict could exist. Guisseppe Greco opposed the entire argument with the idea of an objective hierarchy of values that clearly defines all moral choices. (152) His perspective considers “practical” information to be irrelevant to the objective order, an opinion shared by von Hildebrand who dismisses the argument as a “false assumption” and fiction.” (153)
Guy de Broglie took a similar position in a long article directed to analyzing the “Pastoral Note” of the French bishops on HV.(154) He denies that there can be any “objective duties” other than that of following the objective moral order. The core of his argument is that a duty consists only in the necessity of avoiding an evil and not omitting an obligation. He disagrees with the idea that there is ever a duty to choose a good and considers the notion a Kantian invention that lies outside the moral traditon of the church. According to the “principle of non-contradiction,” he says, one can never experience the “duty” to do two exclusive things. Thus, since conflict occurs only between two positive things, and not between a positive (express love) and a negative (avoid conception), there cannot be a. conflict of real duties which would either be impossible to fulfil or would be connected with a negative proposition.
De Broglie, however, does postulate the existence of “veritable and conditional duties” which exist completely on the subjective level. He uses this vehicle to exegete the French statement which he thinks to be misleading and lacking a sufficient appreciation for the evil of contraception. Veritable duties he solves with an adaptation of the principle of doubt effect, but he is careful to restrict their existence to the subjective level. The conflict of duties argument, then, is regarded as a simple, pastoral concept which is not applicable to a theological assessment of HV’s moral conclusions.
Similar ideas are found in other authors as Louis Sahuc who distinguishes “essential morality” and “existential morality” where the former is the correct teaching of HV and the latter admits a pastoral appreciation of apparent duties.(155) Martelet ties the conflict of duties idea to the concept of the lesser of two evils. It can never be a duty, he says, to choose a lesser evil, for evil can never be the direct object of the will.(156) He admits that subjective conscience can conceive of such a thing in terms of duty, but attributes this to man’s sinful condition. His overall appreciation of the imperfect state of man and his world allows for a practical conflict in one’s perception, but such a thing does not exist in the objective order.
Martelet’s central proposition with regard to this problem is that although the exegencies of a situation can justify the act of “sinners” choosing a lesser evil, the extent of that justification can never establish the disorder (contraception) to be a good. This idea, in one form or another, is central to the critique of the conflict of duties argument in regard to its primary assumptions. For although one may argue the point of whether real duties exist in a conflicting way, the reasoning will eventually break down, as Delhaye notes,(157) to one’s assessment of the “artificial means” of regulating birth. The encyclical considers it a disorder and, as such, something intrinsece inhonestum. Those who agree with its conclusions consider it intrinsically evil and thus removed from one’s possibility of choice. Others will assess some forms of contraception to be morally indifferent, while a third group will recognize the existence of some kind of evil which can be chosen to avoid a greater evil. The conflict of duties argument, then, is supplementary to the more fundamental question of the “evil” which contraception may or may not constitute. The development of this question usually took place in the reaction to HV’s own rejection of the choice of the lesser evil.
2. The lesser of two evils
HV,14 specifically states that contraception cannot be justified either by invoking the argument of the lesser evil or by its absorption into a totality of generally fecund acts.(158) While these arguments can be treated separately, they are linked together in order to share the same solution: that an evil (means) can never be used to bring about a good (end) – not even for the most serious reasons. This is highlighted by the encyclical in the use of distinctive terms to describe “preferring” or “selecting” (eligendum esse) an evil which may be a lesser one as it cites the proffered argument and “tolerating” or “allowing” (tolere) a lesser evil which is permitted according to classical principles. The proposition affirming the principle (numquam licet. ..facere mala ut. eveniant bona) is explained precisely as “directing the will to that which by its very nature transgresses the moral order (voluntatem conferre, quod ex propria natura ordinem transgrediatur). Further, though some interpretations will state otherwise, it appears very clear that the author was speaking about evil in the moral sense (malum morale) and that no nuance of different kinds of evil was intended. The last sentence in this final section of HV,14 applies the reasoning to the totality argument which it considers to be “in error” (erret omnino) and specifically qualifies contraceptive intercourse to be intrinsece inhonestum.
It therefore seems incongruent with the teaching of HV,14 to allow for the justification of deliberate contraception as the lesser of two evils. Gustave Martelet attempts to do this, going so far as to say that the encyclical as a whole permits the choice,(159) on the grounds that the evil of contraception is not the “most serious of the faults of love” (p. 23) and that the pastoral nature of the teaching understands the “subjective choice of a lesser evil” (p. 138ff).(160) To vindicate his position, he refers to the French bishops’ Pastoral Note on HV to the effect that “contraception can never be a good. It is a disorder, but this disorder is not always culpable.”(161) But his interpretation differs from that statement in that he still considers contraception to be a moral evil. Such a position would force the individual into an untenable situation in which his (subjective) conscience would seem to be dictating something known to be a sin.(162)
Most attempts to circumvent HV,14 end in failure as long as one accepts all the premises of its argument.(163) The main tenet of that position is that contraception is a moral evil, in and of itself, which therefore can never constitute a direct choice of the will.(164) This premise, however, was not accepted by a number of commentators. The most common approach to the problem centered around the disputes over whether an act defined strictly in physical terms could be morally qualifiable and over the precise meaning of intririsece inhonestum. Very often the implicit question in what sense is contraception considered to be evil led to a comparison of this practice with other kinds of evil spoken of in moral theology.
A frequent comparison was drawn between contraception and killing as morally relevant terms (165) but the same argument could be broadened to include telling a falsehood and taking the property of another. The argument may be developed in the following, abbreviated way: Most acts which man performs are considered to be morally indifferent. This applies to all acts of man (actus hominum) such as eating and sleeping and to most personal acts (actus humanus) such as the classical example of giving alms which can be either good (for a good intention) or evil (if done for self- aggrandizement). Some human acts, however, are considered to be evil in themselves because of their very nature, such as blasphemy or adultery. But here it is necessary to be attentive to the theological interpretation of such things.(167) Are these acts considered to be evil because of their structure (the thing done) or because of their meaning (the intention and circumstances); in terms of modern philosophy, are these acts not morally predefined rather than being merely descriptive? For both acts mentioned already presuppose some moral category: blasphemy is not the utterance of an atheist making a poor joke but an intentional curse of a God one believes to exist, and adultery already contains the notion of an unjustifiable breaking of the marriage covenant.
There is a long tradition in theological reflection that distinguishes between the description of acts which contain some element of evil, not yet morally qualified, and a characterization of acts that already contains sufficient information about circumstances and intentions to render a moral judgment. The former, such as killing, taking another’s property or telling a falsehood, are considered to be deficient in some way or to be inherently against the protection or realization of some good (in the terminology of the encyclical, they are disordered). The latter category, such as murder, stealing or lying, are considered to be morally evil because their circumstances have already been accounted for and the intention of their perpetrator impugned: murder is unjustly taking the life of an innocent party, stealing is taking the property of another which one does not have a right to, and lying is telling a falsehood to (or concealing the truth from) a person who has a right to the truth.(168) Unfortunately, most modern language does not hold to the scientific categories described in this tradition and today we hear the terms used indiscriminately even in catechetics. One speaks of stealing as justifiable, abortion as murder, and the idea of telling a falsehood (falsiloquium) has been all but supplanted by “lying.”
When we turn to the commentaries on HV, we note that “contraception” can fall into any of the three categories implied above: indifferent, premoral evil or moral evil.(169) The encyclical itself regards it to be in the last of these: contraception is a moral evil.(170) A number of theologians however, would like to define it as a pre-moral evil.(171) Others would tend more toward the idea of indifferent, although this position admits of various degrees. (172) It seems clear that when HV designates contraception to be a moral evil, it thus proscribes it as a possible moral choice. To define the act in any other way is to depart from the teaching of the encyclical, but it may still be asked whether doing so would differ from the current and traditionally developing teaching of the church.
Reading GS does not give us any judgment about contraception per se. But a number of negative arguments can be put forth to imply that the fathers at Vatican II did not wish to classify it as a moral evil. The total absence of any natural law reasoning, the designation of intrinsic evil and the use of physical terms to describe the conjugal acts points in this direction. Then, the designation of conjugal acts as those of the person, the emphasis on responsible parenthood, the positive valuation of conjugal relations as a means of expressing love, and the offer of a criterion for action as the dignity of the person, enhance the notion that contraception was not being judged as an act in itself (on purely physical terms). The later reactions which the bishops of various countries gave to the encyclical also shows that contraception was not being considered to be a moral evil, and especially not a personal sin.(173)
This argument appears to be one of the most fruitful ways of interpreting HV, though it is definitely other than the teaching itself. Most all the other arguments brought forth to critique the encyclical or offer mitigating interpretations will eventually hinge on the character axxd gravity they attribute to the act of contraception itself. Likewise, the frame of reference one uses – the fundamental theology – for approaching the . question will be significant in the position one takes toward the moral evaluation. The approach of the encyclical, that the physical act by its very structure is (morally) evil, appears tied to the inevitable conclusions which it draws. Yet it seems that a number of commentators desired to accept HV itself and yet interpret it in foreign terms, very often under the auspices of the notion of personal conscience.(174) While that remains a topic for the following chapter, it may be worthy to note here that the notion that contraception itself contains “some kind” of evil struck a resonant chord in the minds of many theologians.
Speaking in non-moral terms, most theologians agree that contraception contains some amount of “evil.”(175) Delhaye refers to it as “the negation of fecundity” (176) and Keane notes that every act of contraception contains an element of physical evil.'(177) Daniel Callahan poses the. relevant question about the long term effects of contraception,(178) which one could apply to the use of certain means or to the phenomenon as a whole which would obviously hold ramifications for world population. Norbert Rigali believes that while it is presently looked upon as a “physical evil,” in the future a more ideal world view will see it as a moral evil, but for different reasons than HV’s.(179) All these arguments seem to have one thing m common that contraception cannot be accepted as an unqualified good. In a way, the encyclical, though it went much further, had said this when it. positively linked the meaning of conjugal sexual relations to the fullness of their (twofold) significance. While the issues of “evils” and conscience and conflict situations were being hotly debated in theological circles, it may be to HV’s credit that it forced the recognition that contraception was not an ideal panacea into the public forum and caused theology to strive to elucidate its precisions.(180)
3. The importance of motivation: intention
It would not be fair to say that HV was unaware of the difficulties faced by modern man which lead to the decision to regulate birth. In several places it notes the problems of families and nations (HV, 2, 23, 25), the indications of responsible parenthood (HV, 7, 10) and the desire for man to seek solutions by using his created intelligence (HV, 3, 16). All these factors, however, are not considered relevant by the encyclical when it approaches the moral question of contraception. Violation of the crteria chosen for its decision does not admit even of the gravest causes (HV,14: (ne ob gravissimas quidem causas) or the best of reasons (HV,16: etiamsi haec altera agendi ratio argumenta repetat, quae nonesta et gravia videantur), the principle reason being that the act itself is considered to be morally evil.
In a fashion similar to the reaction of the bishops, few theologians went so far as to contradict the teaching of the encyclical. Also, virtually no one would say that contraception could be justified by motivation or intention alone. Such an argument would hardly be a viable moral precedent. But it is clearly evident in the discussion of other issues that the idea of intention in one’s actions was playing an important, if subliminal, part. This is especially true in regard to the question of periodic continence.
It has already been noted that there was a certain lacuna in the teaching of HV with respect to the importance of one’s motivation in regulating birth, even if the means chosen are found to be licit by the magisterium. This observation must be balanced with the idea, clearly found in the encyclical, that periodic continence may be practiced only when there are serious or justifying reasons.(181) But to appreciate the difference here between the necessary presence of serious reasons and the positive indication of one’s intention to avoid conception, it is first necessary to recall the distinction made earlier between rhythm and periodic continence. In using rhythm, one is doing something positive, taking the initiative, in regulating conception; with periodic continence, one is avoiding a duty, depriving marriage of its fundamental meaning. The vast majority of theologians, who assumed that rhythm was per se moral and licit, were led by their assumptions into the belief that conjugal sexual relations were equally moral and licit, even when they were completely incapable of resulting in procreation. (182) This led to an understanding that the ends of sexual intercourse were de facto separated: one could engage in (intentionally determined) infertile coitus for the sole purpose of expressing conjugal love. It was naturally a short step from assuming the intention to make procreation impossible through calculation to the use of “artificial means” to achieve the same end.(183) The approach of the encyclical does not suffer from any ambiguity of intention because it insists that all coitus remain “open to procreation.” The practice of periodic continence is purely one of avoiding a certain possibility and was concerned not with the intention behind one’s actions but the reasons justifying an omission.
The problem here lies in determining the precise place of one’s intentionality. HV,14 rules out using contraception as a means or as an end (id tamquam finem obtinendum aut viam adhibendam intendat) which is in keeping with its approach of judging the single act. The arguments it rejected, such as that of totality and the lesser of two evils, obviously had different operative premises. The gap between these two approaches is touched upon in HV,16:
If it is not denied that spouses in each case by their certain and mutual consent wish to avoid offspring for acceptable reasons, never-the-less it is equally true that it is only in the first case (periodic continence) that the spouses wish to abstain from marital intercourse during the times determined to be fertile, however often the procreation of children is not desired for just reasons; while when the times not apt for conception return, they use intercourse to witness to their mutual love and to serve their faithful commitment.(184)
Once again we see that the encyclical limits the possibility of man’s initiative strictly to the negative choice of avoiding fertile intercourse. The “intention” spoken of here, to temporarily avoid having children, does not morally qualify the acts which might be undertaken to achieve that end. Rather, it has its own meaning (avoiding the concrete realization of a fundamental purpose of marriage) and justification (the serious reasons). The means of accomplishing this, be it calculation of fertile periods or contraception, is then treated with its own criteria: whether the method respects the natural processes. Again, within this frame of reference, only (periodic) continence is approved.
The thinking which differed from this approach, including that which grew up around the acceptance and promotion of rhythm, took as its starting point a much broader notion of the action involved. Instead of judging the end (avoiding procreation) and the means (rhythm or contraception) separately, they were seen together under the more general criterion of responsible parenthood. (185) This has also been referred to as the “principle of the total human act.”(186) In a simple form, this can be illustrated by the difference in the question being asked in the moral reflection. The encyclical understands the question to be, “what is being done?” “is this action licit?” The other approach seems to be asking “what is this person trying to accomplish and why?”(187) The principle moral category to be considered, therefore, is not the isolated act but the intention of the acting subject, the end one seeks to achieve. If this is judged to be good (here, responsible parenthood: seeking to protect and promote the values of the conjugal relationship – including its orientation to procreation), subsequent reasoning must turn to the means chosen for doing so (is it congruent with and proportional to the end to be realized?).
If one considers the goal of their action to be responsible parenthood, it may be asked why an act of contraception is not contradictory to this end. The resolution of this problem lies in a proper understanding of the notion of responsible parenthood, namely, that being a (potential) parent, one has an obligation to the conjugal relationship and the family which may simultaneously involve avoiding a (other) child and living in conjugal harmony. While it has been objected that such a situation does not specify any “duty” to engage in sexual relations, one must still consider the positive values to which the christian is called: at most, to promote conjugal love; at least, to avoid jeopardizing the relationship.(188)
The reactions to HV have indicated the meaning of this alternate way of reasoning by alluding to parallel situations in moral reflection, particularly the development of thinking with regard to a healthy donor for transplantation.(189) Whereas previous moral thinking had condemned all acts of mutilation as per se illicit on the ground of an analysis of the physical act, the advance in medicine which made the procedure of donating healthy organs possible led to a revaluation of the entire moral situation. The solution allowed for the actual procedure, mutilation, to be defined as morally indifferent (or pre-morally evil) and the entire act to take its moral specification from the intention of the donor. Similarly, one could never speak of a duty to donate a non-vital organ, but the principle of charity may be used to justify an act that perpetrates (not simply tol¬erates) something objectively (not necessarily morally) evil.
- Characterization of HV as an ideal teaching
In one of the earlier and more widely published reactions to HV, Karl Rahner referred to the content of the encyclical as an ideal teaching (Zielnorm).(190) While the thrust of his reaction was aimed primarily at the questions of authority and the individual conscience decision, his characterization of the operative value of the encyclical’s conclusions introduced an element of fundamental reasoning which was reflected by a number of both bishops and theologians. That idea was possibly related to the encyclical itself which, in its third, pastoral part, took note of the difficulty many would have in following its norm.(191) In short, it postulated the idea that HV was addressing itself to values which characterized the ideal state of christian living or was setting out an idea of perfection to be strived for.
Not surprisingly, it was generally the defenders of the encyclical who put forth the notion that HV represented the teaching of an ideal. Martelet refers to it as “a call for perfection which the church could not abandon.”(192) M. Gallon, after a lengthy justification of HV’s conclusions, recognizes that it upholds an ideal that many couples will find impossible. He therefore suggests that “just as it is wrong to say that the Church’s teaching is erroneous, so it is wrong to accuse of mortal sin those who fail to measure up to the ideal because of difficult circumstances.” (193) L. Sahuc considers the teaching to be bound up with a “perfect order,” but then characterizes the situation of the world to be far from perfect.(194) On the other hand, J.F. Costanzo objects to what he calls this “ingenious construction” because “it does violence to the language of moral condemnations of the encyclical…”(195) And in a negative approach to the encyclical, James Good reacts to the “ideal teaching” notion on the grounds that it does not relate to what is a pressing pastoral problem. Drawing parallels with the Syllabus of Pius IX and the concept of an ideal world in Platonic philosophy, he questions the encyclical on statements like “God wisely disposing natural laws and rhythms of fecundity which, of themselves, cause a separation in the succession of births” (HV,11). Such premises may be good ideas, he admits, but they are not true in the real world.(196)
Richard McCormick doubts that the interpretation of the encyclical as an ideal is a viable approach. But commenting on this reaction, he agrees that the option is worth investigation to avoid extremes: on the one hand, total rejection, and on the other, approaching it with “theological literalism.”(197) Such a perspective would try to understand any teaching of the magisterium without forming rash judgments. Yet it remains a question whether one could really apply the character of an ideal in this case, for the specific propositions of HV are very clear and apparently intended for direct application.
A principle difficulty of the “ideal” approach is determining exactly what is meant to be ideal, and then how it may apply to daily life. There are at least two possible interpretations of what constitutes the ideal here. One is the notion of a perfectly operating natural world where birth control would be unnecessary. This could mean either that conditions of resources and living space were capable of meeting the demands of whatever number of children happened to be born, or that the number of children coming into the world were actually limited by natural functions. While this seems to be implied by the theory set forth in HV,11, it could not be applied to any moral evaluation because it obviously does not exist.(198)
Another interpretation concerns the substance of the moral teaching of HV, “that any use of marriage whatsoever must remain destined in itself to the procreation of human life,” i.e., that conjugal sexual intercourse may never be interfered with, and that conception should be regulated only by (periodic) continence. The achievement of this norm demands not only total respect for the integrity of biological laws but also the complete domination of reason and will over innate drives and emotions (HV,10) which is the result of self-discipline (HV,21). Through these means one acts in accord with the “natural processes” of procreation said to be the dictate of the natural law. In light of this ideal, two questions must be posed: is this really meant as a goal to be aimed at, and is it achievable?
Because the second question would limit the first, we will consider it first and give an affirmative answer; it is possible to live in accord with the natural processes. But we must add immediately that something being possible does not ipso facto make it necessary or even desirable. Whereas HV implies that compliance with natural processes is both these things, a number of reactions have already been cited which introduce other factors into the question. The intimate expression of conjugal love, and the natural desire to do so, for instance, are real elements of the conjugal relationship. Although no one would advocate the totally free reign of one’s emotions, the opposite extreme of making all expressions of healthy desire and emotional behavior subject to denial by what are in themselves non-personal values (biological laws) appears to lack proportion. It also implies that such desires and emotions are not good. (199) To accept such a position would further imply that nature itself is contradictory and that only the imposition of man’s rational powers can introduce order into the (laws of) nature; an argument which defeats its own purpose for existence.
The more basic question here is the status of a norm which is considered to be ideal. Is the ideal intended to be realized in concrete action (or omission) or does it have a symbolic function as a goal for which one should strive but is not always expected to achieve? It seems clear that HV intends the first of these and the ideal is very similar to the Stoic notion of acting in harmony, with nature. But there is a trend by some interpreters to classify its norm in the second category and use the analogy of christian perfection. (200) To this we should respond with great caution. The traditional notion of christian perfection coming from revelation was usually closely linked to the virtues and exhortations to positive action, but it is nowhere equated with observance of the natural law as that concept is understood in the encyclical. Simple observance of law is considered inadequate in the New Testament and can hardly be equated with an ideal. And the basis for practicing virtue is sometimes in opposition to natural processes, from fasting to abandoning the right to survive as a service to others.
Further, there may be an implicit danger in proposing ideal concrete norms for moral behavior, particularly when the matter involved so intimately touches the daily lives of those who are expected to follow it, even when they see no sense in it. An additional pressure is attached to this situation when the violation of the ideal is understood to perpetrate (moral) evil. Such an approach would place the individual in an almost hopeless position. It therefore seems unwise to ascribe the notion of an ideal to a moral teaching as that put forth in HV, for it would tend to alienate the couple who felt the specific norm to be unachievable from the genuine pursuit of virtue.(201) Thus it would go far beyond the pastoral teaching of the encyclical itself.
B. New approaches to the moral question of contraception
There were other moral arguments found in the general and theological reaction to HV which went beyond the framework of the episcopal statements. Many of these differed in nuance or specificity from those already treated, for the bishops’ reactions were generally pastoral in nature and did not attempt to elucidate all the theological points. A few offered new arguments either to substantiate the conclusions of HV or to justify opposing perspectives.
A major point of reference for disagreement with HV was the evaluation of the practice of rhythm as compared with the observance of a purely natural order. Assuming that the former already constitutes a manipulation of the physiological data with the express purpose of nullifying the pro- creative purpose of intercourse, it becomes a matter of systematic integrity, in the eyes of some, to permit one means and to condemn another. “The difference between foreseeing an infertile act, and rendering an act infertile supposes a divorce between the intelligence of a man and his organism – a divorce that alienates, estranges and dehumanizes him, by assigning to nature what belongs to man.” (202) This approach points to an ambiguous response to the role of man’s intelligence. Given the acceptance of his rational intervention for any effective program of regulating birth, it is hard to justify the restriction of means to periodic continence by the reasons offered in the encyclical.
New arguments also emerged in the evaluation of HV’s own propositions. The rejection of the argument from totality was followed with a revaluation of that principle and a broadening of its scope of application (cf. sic). It has been cogently argued that viewing a person as an integrated whole demands the extension of well-being to the psychological and social good of the person. Thus some form of intervention in the physical can be justified to benefit the complete needs of human beings.(203) Also closely related to the encyclical is a broader interpretation of the finality (orientation) of the act of conjugal intercourse. If marital sexual relations are to be determined by their full human meaning, perhaps it is better to draw a distinction between their proximate and limited end (procreation), which is not always realized, and their orientation toward enriching the marital relationship as a whole.(204)
More fundamental criticisms of HV’s perspective already seen include a different definition of the act of coitus as a total human act, the necessary inclusion of intentions and circumstances in the process of moral evaluation, a rejection of the notion of intrinsic evil applied to simple physical acts and a distinction between different kinds of evil, a greater appreciation of the demands placed upon individual couples to procreate responsibly, and generally a completely different way of phrasing the moral question for response. These, in turn, signified an outlook on basic theological propositions that was different from the encyclical’s, such as the notions of natural law, the applicability of concrete moral norms, the role of intentionality in moral decisions, the concept of marriage and a general evaluation of the meaning and purpose of human sexual relations.
Interesting as well were those arguments which sought to sustain the conclusions of the encyclical either by creating loopholes or offering new positive perspectives. The former have already been mentioned and range from interpretations, e.g., the use of therapeutics, to basic redefinitions of important premises, e.g., the meaning of the marriage act.(205) The new perspectives used to collaborate the arguments ranged from extraneous traditional arguments to arguments (206) concerning authority which will be reviewed in the next chapter, but they also included a newly emerging view of the marital sexual relationship.
Martelet leads up to this view when he writes that it is not intervention into the natural order which is found to be wrong, but “it is the fact that this intervention as such deprives the language of love of its force of life which, left to itself, comes to provide it.”(207) There is a new idea here revolving around a rather existential definition of the conjugal relation as an expression of love. Norbert Rigali calls it the “self-giving, open, universal love of charity,” that demands that nothing be held back.(208) This approach first appears analogous to the argument that speech was meant for communication and lying is wrong because it contradicts that purpose. So, the language of love contains a given purpose and the contradiction of its “openness to procreation” falsifies its meaningfulness.(209) The argument, though not completely logical, attempts to place the act of contraception in direct opposition to the expression of love rather than to the procreative purpose of coitus. The falsification enters the argument when one of the possible meanings, procreation, is made impossible through contraception. This is said to invalidate the means of expressing love.
This rather unique argument against contraception reinforces the idea that the procreative and loving purposes of coitus can never be separated, for to render one consciously inoperative makes the act incapable of expressing the other.(210) It is curious that this precedure of invalidation works only in one direction for the absence of genuine love would hardly make procreation impossible. But this type of argumentation is based upon an absolute equation of the two meanings that tends to err in both directions: it elevates the consequence of procreation to the level of a conscious act and it idealizes the individual sexual encounter.
In regard to the first, it would seem worthy of human persons to seek the birth of a child as an act of love and genuine self-giving. But that should not confuse the intention with the physical process. To do so would be to return to the Augustinian concept that the procreative intention is necessary for each act. Furthermore, the notion that one may wish to express conjugal love in its most intimate form while specifically wishing to avoid conception does not, in and of itself, mean that one is refusing or withholding a genuine love between persons. On the contrary, the desire to avoid conception may itself be an act of love.
More dangerous, however, is the romanticism that idealizes the individual sexual act. This attitude insists that every conjugal encounter carry the entire meaning of the marital relationship. John Kippley attempts to construct such a framework under what he calls “a covenant theology of love and sexuality.” He views “the marital embrace as renewal of that (marriage) covenant” and appears to insist that it lacks validity unless there is some element of “risk” involved. Since contraception attempts to eliminate any risk, it is considered fraudulent and therefore directly opposed to love.(211) While this approach may be highly motivated and stem from an understanding of what love ideally might be, it places a tremendous burden on individual persons and couples and expects a simple, physical act to carry more meaning than it can. This confuses the symbolic function of the sexual encounter with the act of intercourse, the intention with the perpetration, the statement with its vehicle of expression, and ultimately, love with sex. It appears to be based in the attitude that sex has to be either completely good or evil and cannot be simply indifferent, a created good which is open to exploitation like everything else in the world. It also sounds very much like the perspective which sacralizes sexuality and attempts even to introduce religious meaning into its concrete realization. Indeed, the power to procreate human life is awe-inspiring and holds an aspect of mystery worthy of prayerful appreciation. But it should never be considered a quasi-religious event which would remove it from the realm of personal responsibility
Finally, we might mention in passing the growth of a movement which, although not directly connected with HV or even necessarily with the church serves as a vehicle for some members of the church to uphold the teachings of the encyclical under different auspices. The Natural Family Planning movement, often referred to as NFP, is dedicated to the advancement and teaching of methods of regulating birth which are “natural,” or “ecological as they are often called.(212) These range from simple calendar rhythm to the Billings’ method based on the observation of cervical mucus associated cyclically with periods of fertility. The movement has also recently become associated with the anti-abortion, “pro-life” movement in the United States.
NFP takes a rather dim view of every form of contraception and seeks to promote, methods of birth control which it considers to be based upon “natural rhythms.” It appeals to the values of self-awareness and ecological sensitivity which are admirable but could only hope to reach a limited audience because of the (constantly denied) complexity of its methods. Unfortunately, the philosophy behind OTP offers very little justification for its own existence other than the fact that some people may prefer natural over “artificial” methods of birth control. But the operating premises it exhibits appear to be clearly aligned with vindicating the conclusions found in HV – that contraception of any form is evil and that anything natural is acceptable – without offering any serious reasons why.
IV. HV and the theology of marriage
A. The general approach of the encyclical
The fact that, shortly after the promulgation of HV, Pope Paul himself said that the encyclical does not propose a theology of marriage, which itself must be developed much further, removed a great deal of interest from attempting to determine that aspect of the papal teaching. Admittedly, there is not very much content of the encyclical that deals with marriage per se, but the whole of the teaching could be interpreted to include an implicit, operative concept of marriage that played a determinitive role in the formation of its conclusions. This must be extracted from the specific statements which were made about the conjugal relationship in regard to its sexual and procreative possibilities.
The theology of marriage has developed a good deal over the past forty years and its place in official teaching reached a climax in the Pastoral Constitution, GS (Part II, Chapter 1). Since that time (1965) much has been written on the subject, but the vast majority of that material is outside the scope of our present study. The reaction to HV concerned itself principally with questions of responsible parenthood touched upon by the encyclical and only incidently considered other matters. To understand the evaluation of the encyclical’s perspective, we will first summarize what was said.
Part I of HV, para. 2-6, reviews the contemporary situation of man which places new questions before our estimation of marriage and parenthood “emanating at least in part from the changing concepts of population, women and the. family. These questions, it. notes, have demanded new considerations from the magisterium and a revaluation of its “constant teaching.” But, as a preamble to the papal conclusions, it is affirmed that the answers to these questions will be founded on “the natural law illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation” (HV,4). The strength of this fundamental outlook is evident in the fact that the recognized opinions and recommendations of the Pontifical Birth Control Commission (HV,5) were rejected because they were at variance with the previous teaching of the magisterium (HV,6).
The first four paragraphs of Part II open the moral teaching of the encyclical by laying down some general principles. HV,7 calls for an “integral vision of man” (totum horninem, totumque ad quod is vocatus est) that goes beyond “partial perspectives” such as the data of biology, psychology, etc. But its global idea, rather than including all these factors, appears to bypass their importance and concentrate on a single view of man. This is done by applying its own exegesis to GS’s notion of responsible parenthood. HV,8 begins the interpretation by linking conjugal love immediately to God. This in itself is an admirable, and some would say eminently theological, point of departure; but one might rightfully ask whatever happened to the other factors in the “integral vision?”
Conjugal love and marriage are said, in HV,8., to be reflections of God himself who is love. It is not the result of blind evolution but the direct design of the Creator. Consequently, the text continues, through their mutual and exclusive gift of themselves, “spouses develop that communion of persons, by which they reciprocally perfect themselves, so that they can share with God in the procreation and upbringing of new lives.”(213) This further narrowing in on the parallel between conjugal and divine love clearly gives precedence to the (pro-)creative aspect of the relationship. The emerging view of marriage, which is also said to be a sacrament for baptized persons, is a highly structured and well defined one. It is significant that the encyclical does not speak in the juridical terms of contract and the marriage bond, but the absence of this aspect also seems to diminish the importance of the conjugal relationship to be on equal par with the vocation to parenthood.
HV,9 then lists four characteristics of conjugal love which are similar to the perspective found in GS: it is fully human, total, faithful and exclusive and fecund. Here is probably the best theological development of the basis for marriage found in the whole encyclical. The teaching is human, because it understands the personal, free aspect of love; pastoral, because it admits of tension and difficulties in living out the commitment; and pedagogical, for it holds out a true ideal which can be strived for and achieved. But this is the only place in the encyclical where this perspective is found. For in the following paragraphs, HV immediately centers in on one aspect of this love, its fecundity, and isolates it from the other factors.(214)
Turning to Part III of HV, we find the pastoral exhortations which also indirectly relate to the encyclical’s view of marriage. Para. 19-21, still connected with the implementation of the moral teaching, recognize the difficulties which married couples may encounter. Its solution rests entirely on a recommendation of self-discipline and asceticism aided by the grace of God. Then, HV,25, addressed specifically to married couples, again notes the “inviolable conditions of the divine law” and asks spouses to accept their vocation “in humble obedience to this voice” (of the church). The vocation to be accepted is closely linked to the sacrament of marriage which strengthens and consecrates them “so that their duties are faithfully carried out, they perfect its form for the fulfilment of their vocation and, as it becomes them, personally bring christian witness into the world.”(215) The following sentence repeats the idea adding that their love cooperates with that of God, “the author of human life.”(216)
These fitting thoughts about the christian vocation of married couple are in keeping with the conciliar teaching to which they refer. They are also followed by four (and later a fifth) quotes from scripture on the difficulties of living as a christian and the help which the love of God provides. It is within this context that we find the phrase about “sin still having a hold over them,” which is an obvious reference to the problem of using artificial contraception.(217) This seems, at first, to be a statement out of context, particularly when we consult the references to GS,48 and LG,35 which are both about the whole vocation of marriage and not speaking exclusively of parenthood. The mention of sin does not fit in with these general exhortations; but it does become appropriate to HV,25 if we understand that the entire paragraph has centered in upon procreation as the primary vocation of spouses and the observation of the (previously enunciated) precepts of the moral law as their duty (menus). In short, the encyclical has applied the (general) conciliar teaching to its own (specific) commentary. This in itself cannot be faulted, for interdependent interpretations of official church teachings are appropriate to manifest the fullness of the message being offered to all christians. By the same token, however, it would be generous to claim that HV,25 is saying more about marriage here than it really is. For not only is nothing substantially added to the council texts, but their use is limited to a given purpose: to encourage married couples to follow the teaching set down by the encyclical on the regulation of birth.
The general view of marriage found in HV, then, takes its starting point to be the same as that found in GS and in a good deal of contemporary writing on the subject. It begins not with the idea of the marriage contract but with the meaning of conjugal love. This is a positive approach, well capable of relating to modern man’s tendency to begin with experience and reflection upon reality rather than with abstract principles. With a fuller appreciation of the christian vocation, and a more specific understanding of the nature of the conjugal community, the parallel lines are clearly drawn to accent the significance of marriage as a sacrament and a highly personal means to genuine christian perfection.
B. From responsible parenthood to the ends of marriage
Nevertheless, HV is not entirely consistent in imitating this approach. From the beginning of the text it qualifies the understanding with more traditional concepts. HV,4 re-introduces the concept of the natural law into the development and identifies the base of its own teach-ing to be “both the nature of marriage and the correct use of conjugal rights and duties.” This basis is further invoked in para. 10 that places I; the source of the “objective moral order” and the “right priorities” in “the nature of marriage and its acts,” and para. 11 which urges men to observe the precepts of the natural law, again identified with the constant: teaching of the church. This two-sided approach led to a split in the impact of the encyclical’s teaching. The introductory paragraphs on conjugal love and marriage (7-9) and the pastoral exhortations to the church as a whole (19-26) appear to have a much more global outlook than the specific moral teaching (10-18). And the theology of marriage found in the first did not directly relate to the natural law criterion employed in the second.(218)
The nature of this split was seen by a number of commentators to constitute the divergence, of HV from the teaching of GS.(219) The latter, it has already been noted, moved from the appreciation of conjugal love and marriage to the concept of responsible parenthood. Although it did not attempt to solve the moral problem of birth control, it did give a number of criteria to be considered in the solution, the most important of which were its personalistic approach and its detachment from the natural law framework. (220) In great contrast to this, the encyclical chose to approach this singular moral question from the perspective of delineating what was and was not permissible with respect to the act of conjugal intercourse. Accordingly, the criteria employed were drawn from a more traditional approach to conjugal morality which amounted to a re-instatement of those criteria in the papal teaching. Simultaneously, it inferred an operative concept of the theology of marriage which can be seen in its specific statements and which bears a striking resemblance to the teachings of Popes Pius XI and XII. What are those criteria?
The entire substance of HV’s moral teaching is based upon a strict natural law approach. By strict here, we mean that nature is looked upon as a created, but self-contained reality which can be understood by empirical investigation. Since it is created, it carries with it the design, the manifest will, and further, the law of God Himself who pre-ordained each and every entity and function to fit. neatly into a discernible, structured pattern. One aspect of this nature is reproduction. Every living thing reproduces in its own. way; cells split, plants produce seeds and animals copulate. Man is one, albeit the highest and rational example, of the animals. He reproduces by copulation as well, but the act by which he does so is also capable of carrying a meaning – it may express or concretize love between the partners, a love which would be beneficial to sustain a proper atmosphere for raising the child which may be an issue of their union. Because the conception of a child is always an imminent possibility of the sexual relation, this act should take place only within the framework of a permanent marriage commitment.
According to the natural law, therefore, there are two possible functions of sexual union: one is procreation and the other is an act of the (loving) relationship. Although the second of these entails the introduction of an intention on the part of the partners, the church teaches that both are willed by God to be inseparable (HV,12). To negate the aspect of love in conjugal sexual relations is to offend the moral order as it relates to the union of the spouses (HV,13);(221) but to interfere with the procreative aspect is to offend God who is the Author of these laws (idem),(222) Furthermore, even though it is known that each individual act of coitus does not lead directly to procreation, it is absolutely necessary that the structure of sexual activity which was created and exists in nature for the purpose of human reproduction must remain intact (HV,12).
The moral question of birth control is considered in light of the natural law (objective moral order). More specifically, it is founded upon “the nature of marriage and its acts” (HV,10). It is considered to be a “transgression of the moral order” and “intrinsically dishonest” to deprive the act of marriage of its fecundity (HV,14) because procreation is an essential purpose of the sexual relation. Although it is considered offensive to the spouses to force the use of marriage upon one’s partner, it is only the use of those things which impede conception which is considered to be illicit (HV,16),(223) and which is expressly excluded (HV,14). It is thus easy to see that there is a certain priority exhibited by the encyclical in regard to the purposes of marriage and the marriage act. In strict accord with the natural law approach, it is clearly evident that “that nature of marriage and its acts” tends toward procreation. The fact that marriage and its acts are also oriented to the end of protecting and strengthening the conjugal relationship was not given the same status in the encyclical. For within the bounds of the natural law theory, even though one may state that marriage should be a stable, loving relationship and affirm that God intends for the unitive significance to be inseparably bound to the pro- creative one, it is only the reproductive end which can be seen as flowing from its very structure.
The reasoning of the encyclical, therefore, in light of its natural law approach, reaffirms the procreative end of marriage and its acts to have a definite priority. It might be speculated that this aspect was stressed because there was already sufficient testimony of the relational value of the conjugal sexual encounter.(224) But this does not seem likely because the specific teachings of HV corroborate the primacy of respecting the “openness to the transmission of life.” There are no serious causes (IIV,14) or reasons which hold an equal status with this primary demand “even if they are honest and serious” (HV,16). There can be no conflict of duties, for the only genuine duty recognized by the encyclical is to follow the “objective moral order” (HV.10). Finally, by designating contraception to be morally evil, ruling out the appeal to a lesser of two evils and dismissing the argument from totality, it is evident that the concern over maintaining the openness (purpose, end) of each and every conjugal sexual act takes precedence over any other consideration.
A few favorable commentators have noted the reaffirmation of the teaching on the primary end of marriage (and its acts) (225) and at least one claims that the idea was present in GS as well as in HV. (226) Others tend to emphasize the intrinsic orientation aspect of the teaching to be inherent in its natural law approach and use this as a basis for arguing on the inviolability of the procreative purpose of intercourse. Taken from the strict natural law theory, this posits only one, inevitable meaning in coitus (reproduction) while the love aspect of the relationship is a meaning “willed by God” but attached by man. In one way of looking at it, one might say that this relates not so much to the primary and secondary nature of the ends of marriage as to their inseparability. (227) But this again returns to a question more relevant to the teaching of Pius XII who, following Pius XI’s reaffirmation of the primary and secondary ends, did not change that teaching but merely added that the ends were inseparable.
As already pointed out, a good deal of theological opinion (and it would seem also the magisterial opinion of GS) considers that the two ends of marriage are de facto separated in the natural order of biological fertility and de jure separated according to the doctrine on rhythm, hence being separable by human action in respect to the individual act of the conjugal sexual encounter.(229) It does not seem possible to draw any other conclusions than that Pope Paul rejects this opinion and reasserts the full and unaltered teaching of his predecessors on the matter: that the procreative “meaning” (the structure of the complete physical process) must be present in each individual act of sexual intercourse. Concomitantly, even though HV allows for the spacing of births by utilizing the knowledge of natural infertility and encourages medical science to progress in making this ever more secure, it appears that Pope Paul VI has not overcome the ambiguous position of the official teaching prior to GS with respect to the practice of rhythm. If that method could be proved to amount to a de facto separation of intercourse from its individual procreative end, it would seem clear that HV would reject the. very notion. Rather, the teaching found in the encyclical accepts, as licit, the practice of periodic continence. Such a program might be called “non-conceptive,” which seeks to “avoid” having a child, as opposed to the more “anti-conceptive” practice of rhythm, which seeks to make having a child impossible.
The theology of marriage, as well as the moral approach to the question of regulating birth, in HV, therefore, appears to be a direct and intentional restatement of the teachings of Popes Pius XI and XII. It is an understatement to say that in the minds of many, this was hardly expected. Many bishops and theologians, and according to widespread opinion the teaching of the council fathers itself promulgated by Pope Paul VI, had gone beyond that particular teaching. As a result, the return to the “traditional approach” to the question was not received lightly in the church and opened a period of debate and conflict between its faithful and even hierarchical members which has not been resolved even to the present time. With an understanding of the field upon which that debate took place, we can now turn to the rules governing its progress. The issue of authority and the necessary or possible response of conscience to a specific moral teaching of the magisterium became an important factor in the HV event. Some would say it was the major factor, if not the cause, of the debate itself.
- In regard to the way in which HV relates to GS, see especially the article by Delhaye, summarized above, pp. 161-5, and the comment on HV,8 above, p. 183, n. 127.
- “Porro ea, de qua loquimur, conscia paternitas praecipue aliam eamque intimam secum fert rationem, pertinentem ad ordinem moralem, quem obiectivum vocant, a Deoque statutum. ..”
- “Ex quo fit, ut in tradendae vitae munere iis integrum non sit…cum, contra, opera sua ad consilium Dei Creatoris accommodare teneantur, quod hinc ipsa matrimonii eiusque actuum natura exprimit, hinc cons tans Ecclesiae doctrina declarat.” Note 10 at this point refers to (only) GS, 50 & 51 and constitutes what Delhaye pointed out as one. of the major differences between HV (matrimonii eiusque actuum natura) and GS (per- sonae eiusdemque actuum natura); see above, pp. 162-3. It is possible, however^ that the reference given to GS is not. intended to be the prin-ciples of the teaching (i.e., “based on the nature of…”) but to the statements in GS, 50 & 51 which recall the need for attention to the magisterium.
- “Nam naturalis quoque lex voluntatem Dei declarat, cuius utique fidelis obtemperatio ad aeternam salutem est hominxbus necessaria” (HV,4).
5. HV,10, n. 9 refers to “S. Thorn. Sum. Theol. I-II, q. 94, a. 2.” This frequently quoted text on the order of priorities of the natural law outlines them as self-preservation, procreation/education of offspring and the goods of reason. The second, referred to here, is based upon “what nature teaches all animals,” a phrase borrowed from the jurist Ulpian (Digest, lib. I, tit. 1, n. 1, § 2-4).
- After stressing the “objective moral order established by God of which a right conscience is the true interpreter,” HV,1C) continues, “Quapropter paternitatis consciae inunus id postulat ut coniuges sua officia erga Deum, erga seipsos, erga familiam, erga humanam societatem agnoscant, rerum bonorumque ordine recte servato” (emphasis added). This last phrase is most often translated as “observing a right order of priorities.” But the latin text cannot be said to lack a resemblance to the traditional notion of the tria bona matrimonii, especially when the. following lines emphasize the matrimonii eiusque actuum natura and the constans ecclesiae doctrina. The tria bona, traditionally observed, demand the priority of the procreative end as the first good of marriage and, by extension, the acts of marriage.
- “Verumtamen Ecclesia, dum homines coinmonet de observandis praeceptis legis naturalis, quam constanti sua doctrina interpretatur, id docet necessarium esse, ut quilibet matrimonii usus ad vitam humanam procreandam per se destinatus permaneat.” Reference given here in n. 12 is to CC (1930) and to Pius XII’s (1951) address to the Midwives.
- Although the encyclical uses many phrases to refer to sexual intercourse, it is unfortunate that it should often fall back upon something like matrimonii usus, as it does here. This classical phrase has all but vanTshed from contemporary literature and its employment connotes an attitude toward sexual activity that is somewhat less than positive and hardly in the same spirit of GS on the subject.
- The laws of fertility referred to here are not exactly the same as the “natural laws” mentioned elsewhere but, being linked with the natural rhythms of fertility which effect the succession of births, are at least indirectly applicable to the ovarian cycle (see below, p. 226, n. 121). That biological phenomenon is not entirely immutable, as science has shown, but is influenced by such factors as health, nutri¬tion and age. Generally speaking, fertility is higher among more healthy and well fed women and has been steadily increasing, worldwide, since man first began keeping records of the data.
- “…propter causas a coniugum voluntate nequaquam manantes” (HV,11).
- While the encyclical speaks of significationem here it must be carefully noted that it ties this “meaning” to the conjugal act and not to conjugal love as GS had done. Some commentators, as Martelet, tried to use HV,T2 to answer criticisms that the pope was using a “biological norm.” But he himself appears to be overly biological when he claims that the “indissoluble connection” can only be present when the act of coitus is potentially fertile. The “procreative meaning,” he writes, is only conditional. The reader may well wonder if, therefore, it would be permissible to use contraception during the times of (expected) infertility (See, L’Existence humaine…, op. cit., pp. S3-8). The encyclical, however, provides a clear answer to that question.
- “Etenira propter intimam suam rationem, coniugii actus, dum mariturn et uxorem artissimo sociat vinculo, eos idoneos etiam fac.it ad novam vitam gignendam, secundum leges in ipsa viri et mulieris natura inscriptas.”
- While HV’s ban on contraception will go further than this, prohibiting the use of steroid drugs as well, this remains a central idea to its complete teaching. Cf., Felix Bak, “Bernard Haring and Humanae Vitae,” in Antonianum 49(1974), n. 2-3, 198-238, p. 204; Richard J. Connell, “A Defense of Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., p. 75; Lawrence L. McReavy, “The Essential Doctrine of Humanae Vitae,” in The Clergy Review 53(1968), n. 11, 861-7, p. 864; Denis F. O’Callaghan, “Questions on the Encyclical,” in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 110(1968), 289-96, 387-91, pp. 291-2: John L. Russell, “Contraception and the Natural Law,” in The Heythrop Journal 10(1969), n. 2, 121-34, p. 124.
- “Pariter, si rem considerent, fateantur oportet, actum amoris mutui, qui facultati vitam propagandi detrimento sit, quam Deus omnium Creator secundum peculiares leges in ea insculpsit, refragari turn divino con- silio, ad cuius normam coniugium constitutum est, turn voluntati primi vitae humanae Auctoris,” (emphasis added). The point is made that the divine laws are designed to determine that the engagement of the faculty to procreate life is not impaired in sexual relations. The emphasis upon the power to procreate, rather than upon the meaning of the act as a whole, or its actually resulting in conception, again underscores the importance of the physical process.
- “Quapropter cum quis dono Dei utitur, tollens, licet solum ex parte, significationem et finem doni ipsius, sive viri sive mulieris naturae repugnat eorumque intimae nec.essitud.ini, ac propterea etiam Dei con- silio sanctaeque eius voluntati obnititur” (emphasis added). Note the equation here of the “meaning and end” of the conjugal act.
- “Sicut; eni.m homo, in universum, corporis sui non habet infinitam potes tatem, ita etiam, et sane peculiari ratione, ne genitalium quidem viriura qua talium, quoniam hae suapte natura ad vitam humanam progignendam spectant, cuius Deus principium est.” It is curious that in this sentence the encyclical specifies the object of its consideration to the “generative powers” (cf. above, the parallel with facultas) and assigns them the single purpose of procreation. This is a further precision of the importance of the physiological process rather than the role of male and female sexuality which GS recognized as a vehicle for expressing conjugal love. The priority given here echoes the traditional thinking that the unitive aspect of coitus was merely secondary and subordinate to the primary, procreative end. The fact that HV,13 also speaks of the sexual act’s meaning and end in the singular (Cf. above, p. 193, n. !5) appears to imply the same point of view.
- See below, the question of HV and tradition in Chapter Six. In the past, when every act of coitus was considered to be potentially fertile, birth control was considered wrong because it effectively denied growth to the male seed which was thought to contain all the necessary potential for a human person. Later, when biological data was more informative, the. reasoning shifted to the nature of the act and its procreative end. The identification of the structure of coitus with the meaning of “natural laws inscribed by the Creator” may represent an evolution of the teaching in this case. However, when the reasoning is independent from the notion of the procreative end or purpose of coitus, which may be the case in an approach which sanctions an intentional program of avoiding conception while specifically denies the absorption of infertile acts into the totality of a basically fecund conjugal relationship, this could constitute a significant departure from tradition.
- “Quare primariis hisce principiis humanae et christianae doctrinae de matrimonio nixi…” These principles are not specifically identified in the encyclical and must therefore be assumed to be part of “the whole moral law, both natural and evangelical” (HV,4).
- “Item quivis respuendus est actus, qui, cum coniugale commercium vel praevidetur vel efficitur vel ad suos naturales exitus ducit, id tam- quam finem obtinendum aut viam adhibendam intendat, ut procreatio impediatur.”
- “Ecclesia sibi suaeque doctrinae constat,.usum earum rerum ut semper illicitum improbat, quae conception! directo officiant…” (HV,16).
- “id…quod ex propria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur.”
- “Numquam licet, ne ob gravissimus quidem causas, facere mala ut eveniant bona.” Although this principle is specifically mentioned in the encyclical, it will be discussed as an argument beyond HV because the debate over the topic went far beyond Pope Paul’s own position.
- “Quapropter erret omnino, qui arbitretur coniugalem actum, sua fecunclitate ex industria destitutum, ideoque intrinsece inhonestum, fecundis totius coniugum vitae congressionibus comprobari posse.”
- For one of the more recent surveys on the topic, see Michael Bertram Crowe, “The Pursuit of the Natural Law,” in The Irish Theological Quarterly 44(1977), n. 1, pp. 3-29. The copious notes attached to this article contain a good bibliography of current opinion. Footnotes in this and the following chapter are not intended to be exhaustive summaries of all the reactions to HV. Rather, they provide a sampling of sources for the major forms of argumentation which were often simultaneously published or repeated in varying terms.
- Gustave Martelet, L’Existence humaine……, op. cit., pp. 38-9.
- Ibid., pp. 85-8
- Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Encyclical Humanae Vitae: A Sign of Contradiction, op. cit., pp 38-42.
- Ibid., pp. 43-6. Von Hildebrand develops his argument almost with the notion that contraception is an offense against an as yet unconceived human person.
- Gregory Baum, “The Right to Dissent,” in Commonweal 88(1968), n. 19, pp. 553-5.
- Cf. Jacques Etienne in “A Symposium on Humanae Vitae and the Natural Law,” in Louvain Studies 2(1969), n. 3, 211-30, pp. 216-8. The philos-opher traces the origins of natural law theory to the desire to tran-scend positive law, but limits it to a “formal rule” which contains no precise directives for action.
- One extreme example of this is Joseph F. Costanzo, “Papal Magisterium, Natural Law and Humanae Vitae,” in The American Journal of Jurisprudence 16(1971), pp. 259-89, who writes of God “revealing” natural law. This contradiction in terms implies a private revelation for the pope beyond the understanding of all men. David Knowles, “The Encyclical without Ambiguity,” in The Tablet 222(5 Oct. 1968), n. 6698, pp. 981-3, writes that only the magisterium has the right to interpret or even understand the natural law.
- Anselm Gunthor, Kommentar zur Enzyklika Humanae Vitae (Freiburg: Seel-sorge Verlag, 1969), referred to in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., p. 200, defends the magisterium’s right of interpretation but defines the encyclical’s competence as “the concrete and spiritual vision of married love.” Cf., Daniel C. Maguire, “Moral Inquiry and Religious Assent,” in Curran (ed.), Contraception…, op. cit., pp. 127-48; J.P. Mackey, “Teaching Authority*in Faith”and Morals,” pp. 91-114 and P.J. McGrath, “Natural Law and Moral Argument,” pp. 58-78, both in J.P. Mackey (ed.), Morals, Law and Authority: Sources and Attitudes in the Church (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1969).
- This is not to say that other “experts” are any more qualified to know the natural law as such. Lionel Kean, “Natural Law and Birth Control,” in On Human Life, op. cit. , pp. 27-44, writes, “These self-evident general principles or common notions of the natural law, however, are only man’s fallible interpretations of the natural law which God has created in man’s being. Even when they are the outcome of the most accurate and discerning observation they are still not the natural law which God has created in man’s being, since this exists only in man’s nature” (p. 29).
- Gregory Baum, in “The Right to Dissent,” art. cit., p. 553, observes, “It is difficult to explain how a rule of life that is. based on natural law and hence corresponds to the universal moral experience of man is advocated in the present culture only by the Catholic Church, unless one wanted to suggest that the consciences of other men and even other churches are so corrupt that they are no longer in touch with the foundation of human morality.”
- Charles E. Curran, “Natural Law and Contemporary Moral Theology,” in Curran (ed.), Contraception…, op. cit., 151-75, pp. 151-4.
- Martelet, op. cit., p, 109, uses this reasoning to argue in favor of HV saying that “a God who would be only the rational maker of the. world is a false God.” The implication, of course, is that the encyclical does not presuppose such a .view. The key word here is “only,” for it would seem that HV presupposes at least the. creator of a rational order.
- Curran objects to HV’s moral reasoning precisely on this point and argues that christian ethics per se should be christocentric and incarnational. His objection to the type of natural law theory used in the encyclical is that, being based on nature and not on man as the center of creation, it cannot comprehend the importance of the “full horizon of the Christian view of reality,” including the existence of sin and its effects. See, art. cit., in Contraception…, pp. 155-6.
- HV, 4: Nam naturalis quoque lex voluntatem Dei declarat cuius utique fidelis obtemperatio ad aeternam salutem est hominibus neces-saria,
KV, 8: Matrimonium…sapienter providenterque Creator Deus ea mente instituerit…
HV,10: …opera sua (coniugium) ad consilium Dei Creatoris accommodare teneantur, quod hinc ipsa matrimonii eiusque actuum natura ex- prim.it, hinc cons tans Ecclesiae doctrina declarat. . .
HV,11: Deus enim naturales leges ac tempora fecunditatis ita sapienter disposuit…
HV,12: Huiusmodi doctrina… in nexu indissolubili nititur, a Deo statuo, quem homini sua sponte infringere non licet…
HV,13: …actum amoris mutui, qui facultati vitam propagandi detrimento sit, quam Deus omnium Creator secundum peculiares leges in ea insculpsit, refragari turn divino consi1io… turn voluntati primi vitae humanae Auctoris.
HV,16: (Ecclesiam) affirmare, id peragendum esse, servato rerum ordine a Deo statuo.
- “significationem et finem,” (HV,13); cf., above, pp. 193-4, nn, 14 & 16.
- P.J. McGrath, “Natural Law and Moral Argument,” art. cit., p. 72, argues that nature was itself created as an evolving reality.
- W.R. Albury, art. cit., p. 136, uses the example of acorns from oak trees which could be said to be “intended” as food for squirrels, quite apart from producing new trees; sexual organs themselves, he writes (p. 139), have the often neglected function of secreting hormones for the whole body.
- St. John-Stevas, op. cit., p. 245, asks why the manipulation of animal reproduction is permitted if the “natural process” itself is so sacred. Man is apparently permitted to sterilize or artificially inseminate animals but. the same procedures, even for reproductive purposes (e.g., artificial insemination with the husband as donor), are forbidden for humans. (Reference is made, p. 248, to Pius XII who asserted that marriage has the right only to “natural acts.”)
- The culmination of this reasoning was put forth by the. Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Faith in its Declaratio de quibusdant quaestionibu.s ad sexualem ethicam spectatibus (Rome: Polyglot Press, 1975).
- Cf., Albury, art. cit., p. 139. It is typical of traditional morality to completely ignore female orgasm, and female masturbation was not even considered a specific problem in the manuals.
- Guy-M. Bertrand, art. cit., pp. 120-1. For a discussion of the moral acceptability of amplexus reservatus as opposed to coitus interruptus, see J.T. Noonan, op. cit.., pp. 449-50, (esp. n. 32).
- Only one reference found took this basis of judgment to be as primary to morality as to condemn contraception before anything else. G.E.M. Anscombe, in Contraception and Chastity (London: C.T.S. pamphlet, 1975) wrote, “”Contraceptive intercourse within marriage is a graver offense against chastity than is straightforward fornication or adultry. For it is not even a proper act of intercourse, and therefore is not a true marriage act.” (p. 21).
- By ideology here is meant a system of rationalization which aims at justifying the existence of an already established order. While such systems may sometimes appeal to the data of a spontaneous insight of knowing what is good or right, they are usually inhibited in the quest for objectivity by the accumulated weight of preconceived ideas. Much has been written on the topic in the application of natural law to social justice. Cf., Yves R. Simon, The Tradition of Natural Law: A Philosopher’s Reflections (New York: Fordham, 1967), Vukan Kuic (ed.), pp. 16-27.
- Cf., Louis Janssens, “Norms and Priorities in a Love Ethics,” in Louvain Studies 6(1977), n. 3, 207-38, pp. 231-8.
- One example of inconsistency claimed in the general reaction (such as editorials, articles by non-theologians or interviews with the average Catholic) was the question why it was acceptable to intervene in natural processes in most medical procedures (especially in the case of the healthy donor for a transplant) while the sexual process remained beyond rational intervention. This will be further discussed below.
- Our previous exposition showed the encyclical’s teaching to be centered around the normativeness of achieving complete, natural coitus resulting in insemination. The importance of this criterion is clear from the encyclical’s understanding that coitus remains “open to the transmission of life” even during times of pregnancy and foreseen infertility. Cf., B. Haring, Crise autour Huinanae vitae, op. cit., pp. 75-9. The discussion here, however, differs from the specific dictates of the “objective moral order” (i.e., that the process itself cannot be interfered with) in that it concerns the abstract principles governing sexuality as a whole, moving from the particular to the general interpretation of natural law. The words “intrinsic orientation” do not actually appear in the encyclical but have been chosen (in parallel to the concept of what is intrinsece inhonestum) to summarize a fundamental part, of the teaching.
- C. Derrick, op. cit., p. 86. The simplicity of this author’s approach, aimed apparently at the widest possible audience, gives way to completely unnuanced and therefore misleading statements. Describing the state of the amorous young man, he claims that “his body intends the pregnancy of the girl who attracts him” (p. 87). This type of approach, be it naive or ruthlessly simplistic, highlights a genuine danger for the pastoral approach to sexual questions that may do more to alienate young people than instruct them.
- See below, the argument of “evil consequences,” pp. 219-2.2.
- For instance, Felix Bak, art. cit., pp. 202-4; David Knowles, art. cit., p. 982; Lawrence McReavy, art. cit., p. 864; Louis Sahuc, op. cit., p. 82; Dietrich von Hildebrand, op. cit., pp. 30-35.
- Pour bien comprendre l’encyclique Humanae vitae, op. cit., esp. p. 244.
- “Reflexions morales sur une encyclique,” art. cit., p. 23.
- G.Martelet, op.cit., p.76.
- See above, p. 192, n. 11.
- “A positive approach…,” art. cit., p. 269.
- In “A Symposium on Humanae Vitae…,” art. cit., p. 220.
- The most obvious example of substantial change is the abandonment of the notion of primary and secondary ends of marriage (and coitus) – a concept which, it will be shown later, the encyclical still infers. In fact, HV does not identify the double meaning as explicitly part of the “constant teaching,” but the frequent use of phrases such as huius modi doctrina, quae ab Ecclesiae Magisterio saepe exposita est (HV,12) which introduces the argument in nexu indissolubili all echo back to the gratuitous claim of HV,4 “Hoc mandatum Ecclesia persecuta, omni tempore, sed recentiore aetate copiosius…” (emphasis added).
- “Homines enim merito animadvertunt, usum matrimonii alteri coniugi impositum, nulla ratione habita eius status eiusque iustorum optatorum, non esse verum actum amoris, atque adeo iis adversari rebus, quas circa necessitudines inter coniuges morales recte postulat ordo, ” (emphasis added).
- See John Mahoney, “The Development of Moral Doctrine,” in The Clergy Review 54(1969), n. 4, pp. 260-70. Mahoney refers to the permission granted in 1961 to women missionaries in the Congo to use “the pill,” and to one of the framers of this doctrine, M. Zalba (“Casus de usu artificii contraceptive,” in Periodica 51(1962), p. 182) who was a member of the minority of the Commission. Zalba originally opposed the application of this reasoning used in the Congo situation to marriage (while Mahoney refers to other theologians who did, namely, Fuchs, Valsecchi, Snoek, Demmer, Guindon) but later apparently changed his mind. (Cf., M. Zalba, “La porta del principio di totalita nella doctrina di Pio XI a la sua applicazione nei casi di violenz sessuali,” in Rassegna di teologia 9(1968), pp. 231-2.)
63. Cf., Ciaran Ryan, “Science and Moral Law,” in J.P. Mackey (ed.), Morals, law and Authority, op. cit., 79-90, p. 86.
- Cf., John M Farrelly, art. Cit., p.273.
- Cf., Bernard Haring, “The Encyclical Crisis,” art. Cit., p.593.
- Cf., Guy-M. Bertrand, art.cit., p.115; B. Haring, “The Inseparability of the Unitive-Procreative Functions of the Marital Act.” In Curran (ed.), Contraception….., op.cit., 176-92, p.179; John L. Russell, “Contraception and the Natural Law,” art. Cit., p. 125
- Cf., P.J.McGrath, “Natural Law and Moral Argument,” art.cit., p. 72.
- Cf., Gary MacEoin, “The Conscience of the Penitent and- the Encyclical,” in Bier (ed.), op. cit., p. 350. Fred Flynn, “Humanae Vitae and the Natural Law,” in Priest 25(1969), pp. 81-8, adds to this argument by distinguishing two different ideas of nature: that which is primitive, what man is born with (taken primarily from authors like Rousseau), and that which is perfected, the totality of what man really is. The encyclical, he says, uses the first, but such a perspective denies any difference between physical and moral law.
- William R. Albury, arguing R.J. Connell in “Discussion: Humanae Vitae and the Ecological Argument,” art. cit., p. 138, denies that nature it-self is goal-oriented. If anything, he writes, we can speak of the procreative goal of marriage as a social good in the framework of human culture where man is the measure of value. To reduce the argument to physical nature, he observes, has nothing to do with value at all. Nature simply strives to create ecological balance and in the objective physical order there is no essential difference between increasing population (coitus is oriented to procreation) or decreasing it – through famine, disease, the violent resolution of tensions created by overcrowding or, simply, a high infant mortality rate. Cf., also, Andre Dumas, quoted from La Vie Protestante (30 Aug. 1968) in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., pp. 180-1.
- John M. Finnis, “Natural Law and Unnatural Acts,” in The Heythrop Journal 11(1970), n. 4, pp. 365-87, follows Grisez on positing the good of procreation which, they agree, cannot be rightfully denied in a human act. As stated, most theologians accept the “good,” but many deny it is either absolute or inviolable.
- Walter Dirks, “The Pope and the Church,” art. cit., p. 8, writes, “this doctrine…is also illogical. For example, how can one possibly reconcile the conscious choice of sterile days with the statement that ‘the act of mutual love that does not have as its purpose the. will to transmit 1ife…stands in contradiction to the internal structure of marriage and to the will of the Author of life’?” Actually, it seems that Dirks has misread the encyclical here (para. 13) for the text only speaks of “actuum…qui facultati vitam propagandi detrlmento sit” (emphasis added). This was a frequent misunderstanding of commentators because HV was scrupulous to avoid condemning the anti-contraception intention and sought to exclude only those actions which positively interfere with the physiological process. See below, the discussion on periodic continence, pp. 225-33.
- It is assumed that this development is well enough known to omit documentation. However, since some comments on the encyclical try to establish that the church has traditionally recognized that marital intercourse was not de facto connected to a concrete procreative end, it- is important to reiterate the fact that the strict doctrine of the primary-secondary ends of marriage and every act of coitus was specifically part of official church teaching at least up to the time of Pius XII. Cf., John C. Ford and Gerald Kelly, Contemporary Moral Theology, v. II: Marriage Questions (Westminster: Newman Press, 1964), esp. Chapter 7, “The Essential Subordination of the Secondary Ends,” pp. 127-42.
- In the words of HV,12, “coniugii actus…eos idoneos etiam facit ad novam vitam gignendam, secundum leges in ipsa viri et mulieris natura inscriptas.”
- See above, p. 195, n. 23. The purpose of this statement was to reject the totality argument, but. the proposition here can be treated as independent and not lifted out of context.
- Cf. Gustave Martelet, op. cit., pp. 93-8.
- Besides the statements of para. 11 and 12 noted above (pp. 191-3), we can add the reason given in HV,16 for the condemnation of “(ea) quae conceptioni directo officiant,” namely, that the spouses “impediunt, quominus generationis ordo suos habeat naturae, processus” (emphasis added). This is followed by the statement that the only admissible form of birth regulation is that which is completely based upon abstention.
- The word inhonestum is usually translated “dishonourable” or “shameful~” with a specifically moral connotation. (Cf., Cassell’s New Latin Dictionary, rev. by D.P. Simpson; New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1960, p. 307). The translation used here is not meant to be connected with the notion of “honesty” itself (probus), but refers to the implication that what is intrinsece inhonestum is both objectively and subjectively wrong, a notion which is not necessarily included in the objective term “evil” (malum).
- Felix Bale, art. cit., p. 205, makes the explicit intrinsic-natural law connection which he posits to imply an evil that: is both objective and subjective. Congenital defects in the sexual faculty, he terms “intrinsic objective defects” but are without subjective guilt.
- Philippe Delhaye, “Intrinsequement deshonnete,” in Pour Relire, pp. 23- 34, points out that medieval theologians rarely used the term intrinsece inhonestum but preferred terms such as ex genere suo, ex toto gen- ere suo (malum), variations on Aristotle’s ex natura sua.
- HV,14: “…videlicet in id voluntatem conferre, quod ex propria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur, atque, idcirco homine indignum sit iu- dicandum, quamvis eo consilio fiat, ut singulorum hominum, domesticorum convictuum, aut humanae societatis bona defendantur vel provehantur.” HV,16: “(Ecclesia) usum earum rerum ut semper illicitum improbat, quae conceptioni directo officiant, etiamsi haec altera agendi ratio argumenta repetat, quae honesta et gravia videantur.”
- Guy de Broglie, op. cit., p. 159, without reference to the history of the concept completely agrees with HV’s assignment of “intrinsic evil” to contraception as a moral category and concludes that it is “always and absolutely prohibited.”
- See below, the notion of non-moral evil, pp. 243-8. Delhaye, art. cit., pp. 28-32, mentions that even some things considered evil in themselves have, in the past been “tolerated” because of special circumstances. In that context, he mentions the case of permission to use the pill granted to missionaries (see above, p. 207, n. 62).
- E. Ranwez, “Intrinsequement mauvais?” in La foi et le temps 2(1969), n. 3, pp. 289-95.
- G. Martelet, op. cit., pp. 21-2. This position will be dealt with further on.
- See above, pp. 173-4.
- The criteria applied by the Commission to the contraceptive act are, briefly: 1. It must correspond to the nature of the person and be kept in the context of true love. 2. It should have an effectiveness proportionate to its right and necessity. 3. The means chosen should contain the least amount of physical evil possible. 4. They should be determined by availability and the couple’s situation. See, The “Final Report,” Ch. V, 2, in The Tablet 221(1967), n. 6622, p. 452.
- See above, p. 195, n. 23. HV,3 first notes the argument in a short summary and refers to it as the “so-called principle of totality” (principio totalitatis, quod appellant).
- “Qui limites non aliain ob causam Btatuuntur, quam ob reverentiam, quae toti humano corpori eiusque naturalibus muneribus debetur, secundum principa, quae supra memoravimus, et rectam intellegentiam principii totalitatis, ut aiunt, quod Decessor Noster v.m. Pius XII illustiravit. Note 21 at this point refers to speeches to the Association of Urology AAS 45(1953), pp. 674-5 and the Association of the Blind, AAS 48(1956) pp. 461-2.
- As noted above, pp. 173-4 and n. 106, there is a slight difference between the “Majority working paper” which addresses its argument to th< totality of sexual acts of marriage and the “final report” which broadens the concept to all the acts of the marriage relationship.
- Joseph F. Costanzo,” Papal Magisterium, Natural Law and Humanae Vitae art. cit., p. 278, calls this “an expansionist interpretation of the principle of totality.”
- Cf., for instance, Guy-M. Bertrand, art. cit., p. 122 and B. Haring, art. cit., in Contraception…, pp. 190-2 (who does not designate the argument as “totality”). Martelet, op. cit., pp. 148-9, acknowledges the reasonableness of this argument but rejects it because it places specific acts in an “indirect light” and tends to forget that contraceptive acts are still intrinsically evil. He parallels a generally (totality) truthful person who may still tell an occasional lie- an argument which indicates his understanding of contraception to be morally evil (as a lie vs. a falsiloquium).
- In regard to contraception, see above, pp. 207-8, n. 62. Other cases could also be cited such as the use of cosmetic surgery or various therapies employed for purely psychiatric reasons.
- Cf. Kevin T. Kelly, art. cit:., pp. 263-9.
- Joseph F. Costanzo, “Papal Magisterium and Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., p. 393. writes, “A marital act is devoid of the fullness of the true mutual love if it is not performed with the intent of the spouses to give by that very act the supreme gift of love to one another, the similitude of one another’s being” (i.e., a child).
- John M. Farrelly, “The Principle of the Family Good,” art. cit.
- Ibid., pp. 265-6. Farrelly also introduces the question of whether sexual activity that does not include coitus could be acceptable since without the “natural structure” there is no procreative meaning being denied. While that option offends some who look upon everything except: “natural heterosexual intercourse between spouses” as a perversion, it is unrealistic for moralists to ignore what has been documented to be the relatively common experience of many married couples. Farrelly’s own position on the question is unclear.
- John F. Kippley, op. cit., pp. 89-96, argues specifically about the Commission report and he performs a reduction ad absurdum by asking why particular acts of adultery cannot be incorporated into the “totality of marital fidelity.” Rather than dignify the question with an answer, it should be sufficient to point out that the author is extremely act-centered and writes in a rather catechetical vein.
- A pre-nuptial agreement to avoid having children throughout a marriage by using contraception is considered an impediment to marriage. The possibility of contracting a valid marriage is contingent upon an over-all or basic orientation to fecundity. Cf. (C.I.C.) Cannon 1086 & 2 (303 & 2 in the new code.)
- It is perhaps a serious omission of HV that it did not specifically mention that even periodic continence could be immoral if it is wrongfully motivated. While this can be easily inferred from the general position of Pope Paul, it was specifically pointed out by some bishops (see above, p. 75).
- Even the “minority paper” of the Commission recognized this although it adds the specification for the single act as well. “Traditional teaching obviously admits the principle of totality and demands that the sexual act not take place except in relation to the whole reality of procreation and education,” See The Tablet 221(1967), n. 6623, p. 484.
- Ibid., pp. 484-5, and above, p. 149.
- Pope Paul himself remarked that he had “pondered over the consequences of one and then the other decision,” in a speech at Castelgondolfo after HV was issued. (Quoted in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., p. 92.)
- See above, pp. 182-7.
- P.J. McGrath, “Natural Law and Moral Argument,” art. cit,, in J.P. Mackey (ed.), op. cit., p. 68. The author dismisses HV,17 with the formula abusus non tollit usus and refers to a “reverse” consequential- ism because the conclusion drawn is an absolute condemnation of every act of contraception. Normally, consequentialisrn per se does not judge single acts but places every act in the context of its consequences – it can be good or evil (with variations according to authors, of course).
- The first from a defender of HV, C. Duquoc, art. cit., p. 21; the second from a critic, G. MacEoin, art. cit., p. 349,
- N. St. John-Stevas. op. cit., pp. 252 & 254.
- Jack Dominian, “Birth Control and Married Love,” in The Month 231 (1973), n. 1267, pp. 98-103.
- While I have found nothing specifically written on this, it seems logical that where couples are encouraged to practice responsible and effective birth-regulation, the situation demanding imposed programs becomes unnecessary. One could only cite the recent case of India where the government’s drastic program of sterilization may have been avoided if better forms of birth control, had heen employed. While some experts extoll the effectiveness of periodic continence for individuals or even certain groups, it has never, to my knowledge, been shown to be a successful curb on serious population problems.
- This is the general idea put forth by most defenders of the encyclical who view the admission of “permitting” contraception to be equivalent to sanctioning it. The problem here is an absolute way of thinking: either contraception is evil or it is good. The only solution to this involves a more theological idea of good and evil.
- Alfons Auer.. “Nach dera Erscheinen der Enzyklika ‘Humanae Vitae’ – Zehn The sen liber die Findung sittlicher Weisungen,” in Theologische Quart al schift 149(1969), n. 1, pp. 75-85; summarized by R. McCormick in “Notes on “Moral Theology,” in Theological Studies 30(1969), n. 4, pp. 654-6.
- Louis Janssens, “Considerations on Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., pp. 242-5
- It must be remembered that I do not propose a theological treatise here which would demand a considerable amount of nuance. The proposition stated here is intended to be a simple statement of fact, neither obliging nor forbidding any concrete action, and certainly not intended to be more comprehensive than it appears.
- The full text of HV,15 is quoted above, p. 77, n. 74.
- Cf. G. Martelet, op. cit., pp. 124-30; L, Sahuc, op. cit., pp. 108-10.
- “L’Inhibition de l’ovulation est-elle moralement licite?” in ETL 34 (1958), pp. 357-60. The opinion was generally rejected at the time but the notion of using pharmacotherapy to correct and thus imitate natural processes rebounded in the early 1960’s.
- Denis F. O’Callaghan, “Questions on the Encyclical,” art. cit., p. 391.
- Cf., Documentum circa sterilizationem in nosocoiaiis catholicis, issued 13 MarT975 by the Cong, for the Doctine of the Faith as a response to an inquiry by the American bishops. The document, is discussed by Richard McCormick, “Sterilization and Theological Method,” in Theo-logical Studies 37(1976), n. 3, pp. 471-7.
- “. . . inf itiandum non est, coniuges in utroque. casu mutua certaque con- sensione prolem ob probabiles rationes vitare velle, atque pro cxplor- ato habere liberos minirae esse nascituros, attamen fatendum pariter est…” (HV,16).
- “…seriis causis moralibusque praeceptis observatis, animum indicunt1 (HV,10). This notion is especially related to the “conflict of duties argument treated below.
- Some commentators, in speaking of rhythm, make reference to HV,11 which notes the experiential fact that not every act of intercourse is followed by conception. The following sentence states, “For God has wisely disposed natural laws and rhythms of fertility so that of themselves subsequent births are already spaced.” But. this would not seem to be a reference to rhythm as much as it is to a postulated period of natural infertility during post-parturn lactation. The fact of occasional fertility does not, of itself, space (intervallent) births, and most medical research agrees that the period of ovulation is severely disrupted and virtually unpredictable during the first year after pregnancy, making an unintended pregnancy more probable.
- “…Ecclesia docet, tunc licere. coniugibus sequi vices naturales, generandi facultatibus immanentes, in maritali commercio habendo iis dumtaxat temporibus, quae conceptione vacent, atque adeo nasciturae proli ita consulere, ut morum doctrina, quam modo exposuimus, haudquaquam laedatur” (HV,16).
- HV,16 begins by restating the question (from HV,3) whether it is right for human intelligence “to control the forces of irrational nature… or to use artificial birth control” to that end.
- This is essentially the same idea found in HV,H. See above, pp. 191-2.
- “Ecclesia…iudicat, coniugibus licere rationem habere temporum, quae fecunditate careant.”
- “…in priore, coniuges legitime facultate utuntur, sibi a natura data.” A number of translations render the word facilitate as “facility” (HVB, p. 42) or “disposition” (C.T.S., p. 15; and the same word in french in Pour Relire, p. 227). Elsewhere the encyclical uses the word facultas “to refer to the sexual faculty (HV, .10, 13, 16 §2) whereas vis is used to designate the “powers to procreate” (HV, 13, 16 §1 and §2, 24). If we continue the same quote in latin, “in altera vero, iidem impediunt, quominus generationis ordo suos habeat naturae, processus,” it. becomes clear that HV sets up a contrast of legitimately using a faculty and interfering in the order of that same faculty. The generationis suos processus here must be the structure of intercourse (insemination), fertile or infertile, otherwise one would be able to reason to the use of contraception during periods of sterility. Finally, to trans¬late the phrase in question to mean that “nature gives them a non- procreative faculty” would be equivalent to denying the “nexu indis- solubili,” “intimam suam rationem,” and “utra eiusmodi essentialis ratio” of HV,12.
- The text reinforces this explanation by noting “attamen fatendum pariter est, in priore tantum casu fieri, ut ipsi coniuges se a maritali amplexu temporibus fecunditatem invehentibus abstinere valeant, quotiescumque ob iustas rationes liberorum procreatio op- tanda non sit” (I1V,16). Later in HV,21 the emphasis is on control of oneself and one’s emotions, “quod praesertim ad usum continentiae, certis temporis intervallis servandae, requiritur.”
- The question submitted here would provide ground for another disser-tation. It came up in the course of reaction to HV only very infrequently in reference to the history of the idea (cf., Shannon, op. cit., pp. 29-30). Most critics of the encyclical apparently assume, that the separation is possible, natural and even implied in official teaching – an assumption which led to widespread misunderstanding.
- See above, pp. 205-10.
- John T. Noonan, in his classic Contraception…, op. cit., commented on the 1951 addresses of Pius XII saying, “the substantial split between sexual intercourse and procreation, already achieved by the rejection of Augustinian theory, was confirmed in practice” (p. 447). While his assessment may have reflected theological opinion at the time of his writing, it had never been explicitly stated by official church teaching.
- It should be remembered that there was a strong tradition in Catholic theology which excluded this practice, e.g., in pregnancy, with sterile persons, and considered it sinful. Its status remained at least doubtful, often being treated as less offensive than “onanism,” up until the time of CC – the first official teaching which rules it to be licit.
- Cf., Guy-M. Bertrand, art. cit. p. 122; James T. Burtchaell, “Human Life and Human Love,” art. cit., p. 248; W. Dirks, art. cit., p. 9. A more strictly scientific, argument for rhythm being unnatural is produced by Andre E. Hellegers, art. cit., p. 229, who notes that “intercourse is had at times precisely opposed to the biological rhythms of the organism, that is, intercourse is had when there is no ovum.” This argument, carried to its logical conclusion, would be closer to the primitive condemnation of sterile intercourse which even the magisterium abandoned.
- Op. cit., p. 243.
- Ibid., p. 244; cf., Denis F. O’Callaghan, art. ci.t., p. 389.
- L’Existence humaine…, op. cit., pp. 125-6.
- Claran Ryan, art. cit., in Maclcey (ed.)5 Morals, Law and Authority, p. 83, refers to the reliability of rhythm as “scientifically untenable.”
- Cf., a reference to a Le Monde article (24 Aug. 1968) by Dr. Michel Chartier in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., pp. 203-5. Two added problems for this select group of women (every woman goes through pre-menopause stages of various length that include a severe disturbance of regular cycles) are that pregnancy late in life can be dangerous to the woman and that late pregnancies have a high incidence of defective ova resulting in miscarriage and/or birth defects.
- Cf. John Marshall, “Birth Control: Medieval Reflections,” in The Tablet 223(26 Apr. 1969), n. 6727, p. 412.
- B. Haring, “The Encyclical Crisis,” art. cit., p. 593. In regard to the last of these categories, Haring writes elsewhere (“The Inseparability of the Unitive-Procreative Functions of the Marital Act,” art. cit., p. 185), “Should the salvation of a marriage or even the eternal salvation of a person depend so greatly on whether or not the ‘natural rhythm’ is functional?”
- See B. Haring, “New Dimensions of Responsible Parenthood,” in Theological Studies 37(1976), n. 1, pp. 120-32.; Thomas W. Hilgers, “Human Reproduction: Three Issues for the Moral Theologian,” in Theological Studies 38(1977), n. 1, pp. 136-52, disagrees with the article by Haring, challenging the methodology of gathering and applying the data on aged sperm and ova. The article contains a good scientific bibliography for beginning research.
- One of HV’s staunchest defenders, 1″). von Hildebrand, was among those who had to make a virtual about-face in their own theology as the church’s teaching slowly evolved toward accepting periodic continence. While his short book on the encyclical (op. cit.) remains true to his earlier perspective, he may have interpreted the changes too liberally when, he says that HV “confirms that the bodily union of the spouses has a meaning and value in itself, apart from procreation” (p. 47).
- John F. Kippley, op. cit., pp. 112-3, uses this idea to establish periodic continence as the only method of birth control compatible with “genuine love.” His reason is that it contains a built-in risk which parallels the risk of love itself.
- In the first part of this work we listed five “new arguments” found in the reactions of the bishops to HV. We will here follow the same order for the first four of these. The fifth, on the interpretive use of therapeutic means, has already been seen in the previous section.
- See above, pp. 70-3.
- Cfr., for instance, Charles Curran, art. Cit., in Contraception……, pp. 160-7. The discussion of the “objective moral order” above is particularly relevant to this problem.
- This notion, found in GS,51, has been continuously addressed by B. Haring from his first reactions to the encyclical to his latest arti¬cle on. “New Dimensions on Responsible Parenthood,” art, cit., p. 120.
- The duty of the spouses to engage in intimate (sexual) relations is itself inherent in the traditional teaching on marriage, though usually placed in negative terms such as “rendering the marital debt” or “providing a remedy for concupiscence.”
- Cf., John M. Farrelly, “The Principle of the Family Good,” art. cit.
- While HV accepts the avoidance of having a child for serious reasons, it would never characterize this as a moral obligation. Because its reasoning is able to isolate parts of an event – here, conception and birth being separated from the cirsumstances affecting the health of the mother – it perceives Conception to be. a good in and of itself. There may be a moral obligation to avoid a good (continence), but never to exclude it (contraception).
- In regard to the conflict of duties, cf,, Charles E. Curran, “Natural Law…,” art, cit., in Contraception..,, pp. 151-75; Michel Dayez,”Pour comprendre ‘Humanae vitae’,” art. cit.; Philippe Delhaye, “Intrinsequement deshonnete,” and “La conscience devant la loi,” in Pour Relire, pp. 23-34 and 35-50 respectively; Bernard Haring, “New Dimensions..,,” art. cit.; and Arthur Janssen, “Un an apres ‘Humanae vitae’,” in ETL 46(1970), n, 1, pp. 17-23.
- A. Janssen, art. cit., p. 21.
- Guisseppe Greco wrote three articles in L’OR in the editions of 11, 12 and 13/14 Jan. 1969 strongly attacking the notion of a conflict of duties, The articles were published together in booklet form under the title, La luce profetica dell’enciclica Humanae vitae di Paolo VI (Vatican City: Polyglot Press, 1969). For a summary and critique, of this position, see “Drie artikelen van pater J. Greco, S.J.,” in Archief 24(1969), n. 9, cc. 218-9; and “The Church in the. World…Rome Omnious Signs,” in The Tablet 223(1969), n. 6713, pp. 66-71.
- Dietrich von Hildebrand, op. cit., pp. 69 and 72.
- “Conflit da devoirs et contraception,” art. cit., pp. 145-75.
- Louis Sahuc, op. cit., pp. 94-7. The author’s choice of the term “existential morality” is close to the position of de Broglie who attributes the conflict of duties argument to situation ethics. The fault of this system, de Broglie thinks, is that it imposes the real-ization of good upon individuals,
- Gustave Martelet, L’Existence humaine.., op. cit., pp. 138-47.
- “Intrinsequement dishonnete,” art. cit., p. 26.
- “Neque vero, ad eos coniugales actus comprobandos ex industria fecun ditate privatos, haec argumenta ut valida afferre licet: nempe, id malun eligendum esse, quod minus grave videatur; insuper eosdem actus in unum quoddam coalescere cum actibus fecundis iam antea positis vel postea ponendis, atque adeo horum unam atque parem moralem bonitatem participare. Verum enimvero, si malum morale tolerare, quod minus grave sit, interdum licet, ut aliquod maius vitetur malum vel aliquod praestantius bonum promoveatur, numquam tamen licet, ne ob gravissimas quidem causas, facere mala ut eveniant boria: videlicet in id voluntatem conferre, quod ex propria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur, atque idcirco homine indignum sit iudicandum, quamvis eo consil.io fiat, ut singulorum hominum, domesticorum convictuum, aut humanae societatis bona defendantur ve’l provehantur.” (HV,14) Translations of this text are usually rendered more stylistically than a litteral translation would provide. It is probably easier to see the logic or the argument when left in its latin version, in particular the central role of the term malum morale, which circumstantially qualifies the other uses of the word malum (mala).
- L’Existence humaine…, op. cit., p. 139,
- Ibid. Martelet does in fact recognize the strictness of the teaching (pp. 150-1) but attempts to explain his way out of the dilemma by using a modified “conflict of duties” argument. His reasoning, that the exigencies of the situation almost force us to sin, is solved by a subjective decision in conscience.
- Pour Relire, p. 154. See the commentary on this statement above, pp.73-4
- Martelet had a considerable problem with the notion of contraception as evil in his interpretation. He says that disorder as such is not evil but this disorder is (p. 124) because it goes against the power of life. Nonetheless, he accepts the choice of contraceptive means as long as one understands that this act can never be “justified” – i.e., considered to be a good (pp. 81-3, 133-8). In the end, he rests on the circumstances of man’s sinful condition to mitigate the seriousness of the choice.
- Paul F. Palmer, “Conscience, the National Hierarchies and the Encyclical,” in W.C. Bier (ed.), Conscience: Its Freedom and Limitations, op. cit., 297-305, for instance, tries to say that the pope confuses the lesser of two evils with the end justifying the means (p. 303). But this argument fails to see the equation made by the encyclical which understands contraception exclusively as a means and, since it is prior to the evil it may seek to avoid, unqualified for the classical choice of a lesser evil.
- D. von Hildebrand, op. cit., p. 71, considers contraception to be morally evil and a sin with eternal significance, and he opposes its comparison with a possible impairment of the harmony of marriage which he states is “a misfortune, a morally relevant evil” applying strictly to the temporal order.
- Arthur Janssen, art. cit., p. 22, mentions the idea in relation to M. Dayez’s discussion of the topic., art. cit.; Kevin T. Kelly, art. cit., pp. 330-5, also brings it up through a commentary on Josef Fuch’s article “The Absoluteness of Moral Terms,” in Gregorianum 52(1971), pp. 415-57. Martelet, op. cit., seems on the brink of drawing such a comparison but gets it confused when he defines the disorder of contraception to be evil because it is structural rather than physical. His term of comparison is infanticide which already implies a clearly moral definition (p. 2.1).
- Denis F. O’Callaghan, art. cit., p. 295. It would seem more appropriate to use a less drastic example of lying vs. telling a falsehood for analyzing the contraception problem rather than the applicable, but shocking, example of murder vs. killing.
- Cf., Philippe Delhaye, “Intrinsequement dishonnete,” art. cit. While Delhaye does not develop the argument as we are presenting it here, he offers some valuable insights into the history of such terms as “intrinsically evil” which are very relevant.
- One can complicate this further by separating the circumstances from the intention. We can speak of murder, for instance, as taking the life of an innocent person. Some moralists would consider this to be morally qualified: thus the argument that “abortion is murder.” Others realize that intention must also be contained in the moral description, for even Catholic morality recognizes cases of conflicting values which may justify, e.g., “stealing.” This is usually done by classifying an act as a means rather than as an end and reverting back to the pre-moral term by ignoring the descriptive circumstances or introducing new ones. Hence, “stealing” a gun from someone who may have a perfect right to own and possess it will be considered to be only “taking the property of another” and treated as a means if there is a sufficient reason, such as preventing the person from committing murder (which now becomes the end). The casuistry involved in such cases, though relevant, can be burdensome. For the sake of brevity in our development we will omit these arguments and treat the moral qualification as including both circumstances and intentions, i.e., as an end of the will.
- We have chosen the term pre-moral evil which has regained popularity in contemporary moral theology. Louis Janssens prefers to speak of “ontic evil” in a much more nuanced sense that specifies the traditional notion of malum physicum. Cf., “Ontic Evil and Moral Evil,” in Louvain Studies 4(1972), n. 2, pp. 115-56. He notes that there is ontic evil in all our actions and that there is an obligation to diminish the amount of ontic evil both “in the world and in our own acts. However, the use of this term does not sufficiently distinguish between indifferent acts and those which by their structure cause significantly more serious ontic evil (i.e., those usually referred to as “disordered”), which is important for this development. Ultimately, Janssens is undertaking a fundamentally different approach to the entire problem, one which deserves serious consideration on its own terms.
- It is curious that HV,14 also excludes sterilization, but only with the adjective direct, whereas HV,15 seems to allow for therapeutics which are only indirectly sterilizing. One might ask if the reasoning of moral and pre-moral evil could be applied to direct and in-direct sterilization?
- It is hard to list everyone who would take this position for often the idea is merely implied. Among those already referred to we would note Bertraud, Dayez, Dalhaye, A, Janssen, Keane, McCormick, O’Callaghan and Palmer. Kevin T. Kelly, art. cit., who generally accepts the teaching of HV, goes farthest when he explicitly states that, “within the teaching of Gaudium et Spes and in the exercise of collegiality by the hierarchi.es of the world, it is a valid interpretation to understand Humanae Vitae as teaching that contraception is evil in the pre- moral sense…” (p. 334). While we agree with the author’s sympathies, to imply that this is what the encyclical intended seems presumptuous.
- L.. Janssens, for instance, would tend toward accepting a significant amount of ontic evil in the act of contraception whereas Parrelly declares only the moral evaluation of the act and finds it morally good. A few, like P.J. McGrath (“On Not Re-interpreting Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., p. 134) have difficulties in drawing the distinctions.
- See above, pp. 90-6.
- P.J. McGrath, “On Not Re-interpreting Humanae Vitae,” art. cit.., p.124, in referring specifically to Martelet’s treatment of the “lesser of two evils,” calls this the “benign interpretation” and writes, with some sarcasm, “The ‘benign interpretation’ of the encyclical would imply that the Humanae Vitae episode was the greatest failure in communication in history; that the controversy that the encyclical gave rise to was due almost entirely to a misunderstanding of its content, a misunderstanding that the Pope not merely inexplicably failed to correct, but actually helped to perpetuate by insisting on a number of subsequent occasions that the teaching of Humanae Vitae on contraception be accepted in all its rigour.”
- Besides the works of L. Janssens, cf. , Peter Knauer, “Ueberlegungen zur Moraltheologischen Principienleher der Enzyklika Humanae Vitae,” in Theologie und Philosophie 45(1970), n. 1, pp. 60-74.
- “Intrinsiquement dishonnete,” art. cit., p. 31.
- Lionel Keane, “Natural Law and Birth Control,” in On Human Life, op. cit., p. 36.
- “Introduction” to The Catholic Case for Contraception (London: Macmillan, 1969), Daniel Callahan (ed.), p. xi.
- Norbert Rigali, “The Historical Meaning of the Humanae Vitae Controversy,” art. cit.
- Denis F. O’Callaghan, “Humanae Vitae in Perspective: Survey of Recent French Writing,” in The Irish Theological Quarterly 37(1970), n. 4, 309-21, p. 318, notes, with perhaps some hyperbole, that only after HV was the concept of a “lesser evil” applied to the question of contraception. While it may be true that at least some theologians, especially the majority of the Commission, were thinking this way much earlier, it makes the point that the post-HV debate brought the idea sharply into focus for the larger community.
- HV,10: seriis causis; HV,16: iustae causae.
- By designating rhythm and conjugal sexual relations as “moral and licit” in this context, we refer to the purely objective order: the acts are, morally speaking, indifferent in themselves.
- This argument goes back to the very beginnings of the controversy over birth control in the late 1950’s and relates to the still unresolved (for the official church) teaching on whether the separation of the ends is acceptable. This particular approach, moving from an assumed intention (with using rhythm) to make procreation impossible to the realization of that intention by other means (contraception), was easily accepted on the popular level because of its cbtranon sense appeal. In The Bitter Pill, see quotes from Mario Tedeschi, “Catholic Morality and Ogino-Knaus” (from the Gazzetta del Sud, 14 Aug. 1968), p. 220; and Ricardo Bernardi, “La naturaleza como ajenidad,” (art. cit., pp. 89-93), pp. 308-14.
- “Si infitiandum non est, coniuges in utroque casu mutua certaque consensione prolem ob probabiles rationes vitare velle, atque pro explorato habere liberos minime esse nascituros, attamen fatendum pariter est, in priore tantum casu fieri, ut ipsi coniuges se a maritali amplexu temporibus fecunditatem invehentibus abstinere valeant, quo tiescumque ob iustas rationes liberorum procreatio optanda non sit; cum autem tempora conceptibus non apta redierint, fieri ut ipsi utantur commercio ad mutuum testandum amorem atque ad promissam sibi fidem servandam. Lidem sane, haec agentes, vere et omnino recti amoris testimonium praebent.”
- C.f., L. Janssens, “Ontic Evil and Moral Evil,” art. cit., pp. 143-4.
- John F. Kippley, op. cit., pp. 73-82. Mr. Kippley takes a rather dim view of this approach due, in part, to the emotional character of his arguments; but he has coined a fitting name for the argument,
- Again we refer to Janssens, art. cit., pp. 117-8, where he notes the distinction between the finis operis and finis operantis found in moral text books. St, Thomas, he writes, does not use the distinction in his De Actibus Humanis, though he does know of it from Peter Lombard. The ensuing description of Thomas’ “ethics of intentionality” is worth the attention of many so-called “modern” ethical systems.
- The substance of this role of intention in the question of regulating birth is taken from many authors but cannot be wholly attributed to any specific “reaction to HV.” The construction of this framework, then, while owing a great deal to the objects of research for this study, is the responsibility of the present author.
- Cf., John M. Farrelly, art. cit., pp. 268-9, Another example can be seen in a cautious analysis of the permission granted for the use of contraception by women missionaries. See above, pp. 207-8, n. 62, and D.F. O’Callaghan, “Questions on the Encyclical,” art. cit., pp. 292-6.
- Karl Rahner, “Zur Enzyklika ‘Humanae Vitae1,” in Stimmen der Zeit 93 (1968), n. 9, pp. 193-210 (see bibliography). The term Zielnorm is possibly better translated “a norm to be aimed at” rather than an “ideal.” The difference between the two concepts is important, as will be seen in the text, but the term “ideal” is meant here as a general introduction to a concept found in a number of episcopal reactions. See above, pp. 76-7.
- HV,20: “Ecclesiae doctrina de liberorum incremento recte ordinando, quae legem divinam ipsam promulgat, sine dubio multis talis videbitur, ut nonnisi difficulter, imrno etiam nullo modo servari possit.”
- Gustave Martelet, op. cit., p. 135. The author relates this observa¬tion to the pastoral level by contrasting the “call to perfection with the “condition of sinners” (pp. 144-5).
- Michael Gallon, “Humanae Vitae – a Pastoral Priest’s Viewpoint,” in The Clergy Review 53(1968), n. 11, 874-8, p. 877.
- Louis J.-M. Saliuc, op. cit., pp. 118-20.
- Joseph F. Costanzo, art. cit., in Thought, p. 394.
- James Good, art. cit., pp. 386-7.
- Richard A. McCormick, “Notes on Moral Theology: The Encyclical Humanae Vitae,” in Theological Studies 29(1968), n. 4, pp. 72.5-38. The author’s view in this article was that the teaching was based on premises which were in a real state of doubt.
- As pointed our earlier, the substance of a purely natural ideal must be approached cautiously. “Natural” balances in population are brought about by disease and famine, situations in which man has already taken the initiative to intervene and work against nature.
- L. Sahuc, op. cit., for instance, lists one of the imperfections of this world to be sexual instinct. Without saying that this is evil, he creates the impression that it may be better if we did not have to live with it.
- Besides those cited as positively offering the notion that HV represents an ideal, cf., Charles E. Curran, art, cit., pp. 156-7, who implies the same idea and seeks to settle it with a “theology of compromise;” and Peter Chirico, “Morality in General and Birth Control in Particular,” in Chicago Studies 9(1970), n. 1, pp. 19-33.
- Peter Harris, “Authority, Freedom and Conscience,” in On Human life; op. cit., pp. 85-104, goes further with the practical implications of this position. In criticizing the episcopal position that HV represents an ideal, he writes, “it obscures the importance of personal decision and threatens to leave people living in a more or less permanent state of guilt and all that follows from this, including strain on marriage relationships of the kind that guilt feelings very quickly produce” (p. 101).
- Ricardo Bernardi, as quoted in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., p. 313.
- Cf., for instance, Guy-M. Bertrand, art. cit., p. 122.
- In an extension of the more immediate end of expressing conjugal love, John M. Farrelly defines this as “The Principle of the Family Good,” art. cit., p. 271.
- We point here especially to the need for both meanings to be present in conjugal relations, the procreative and the love expression. See above, pp. 206-8. This development usually drew a parallel between the right to use contraception as a means of self-defense in the 1961 case of women missionaries. O’Callaghan simply explains the case (art. cit., pp. 292-3) whereas John Mahoney, “The Development of Moral Doctrine,” art. cit., pp. 262-5, virtually redefines the meaning of “the marriage act” to need both elements so that the absence of the willingness to freely engage in coitus can provide grounds for using contraception.
- Felix Bak, “Bernard Haring and Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., resurrects the theology of St. Alphonse Liguori, in response to Haring’s reference to the same, and attempts to apply his reasoning to the contemporary situation. Besides using the notion of a “ratum et non-consumatum” grounds for annulment to prove the “traditional” character of HV, Bak proceeds to offer such counsels as abstaining from the Eucharist on days when a couple has engaged in sexual intercourse.
- Gustave Martelet, op. cit., pp. 43-4,
- Norbert Rigali, art. cit., p. 136.
- The way that von Hildebrand puts this, op. cit., pp. 29-34, it contradicts the “superabundant finality.”
- Cf., C. Derrick, op. cit., pp. 34-7. One author, Theodore Mackin, “The Theology of Marriage in Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., goes so far as to say that the sacrament of marriage is most present in “the effective signing operative in the sacrament,” namely, in sexual intercourse” (p. 221).
- John F. Kippley, op. cit., pp. 105-13.
- Cf., William A. Uricchio and Mary Kay Williams (eds.), Proceedings of a Conference on Natural Family Planning (Washington, D.C.: The Human Life Foundation, 1973). This publication is based upon a conference which takes place annually. The Human Life Foundation was created by the American Catholic Bishops after the publication of HV in 1968 and is considered to be “an independent, non-sectarian organization to pursue research essential to the improvement of natural methods of conception regulation,” (“Preface,” p. xvii). Cf., also, John and Sheila Kippley, The Art of Natural Family Planning, op. cit. The movement now also has a quarterly publication, The International Review of Natural Family Planning 1(1977), n. 1 (Spring).
- See above, p. 183, n. 127.
- For a description of HV,10 and its relation to the rest of the teaching, sewe above, pp. 189-90. It can be said that the question of fecundity was approached as an isolated one because the other factors, such as the total aspect or even to be compared to it.
- “(eodem namque ipsi roborantur et veluti consecrantur), ut fideliter mucia sua exequantur, vocationem ad expletam sui formam perficiant, christianumque testimonium, ut eos addecet, coram mundo edant.” Reference is given here (n. 32) to GS,48 and LG,35.
- “Tale enim munus Dominius iisdem committit, ut hominibus patefaciant illius legis sanctitatem itemque suavitatem, qua mutuus eorum amor cum adiutrice opera ab ipsis data amori Dei, humanae vitae auctoris (sic), arte coniumgitur.”
- See above, p.94, n. 126. The specific questions of sin, etc., will be discussed in the following chapter.
- Theodore Mackin, “The Theology of Marriage in Humanae Vitae,” art. cit.., who defends the teaching of the encyclical, is acutely aware of this split and the inadequacy of the practical conclusions. He writes, “when driven, plainly though willingly, into the hard existential consideration of the pain of practicing rhythm, he looked for and found words of counsel in the mixed moral-ascetical theology of his predecessor Pope Pius XI’s encyclical, Casti Connubii of almost forty years ago. And this produced an anomaly: marriage and married love as a human phenomenon may be all he said it is in 1968; but married love- making for Roman Catholic Christians is still where it was in 1931: reason and will exercising control over animal desire in order that the right priority of goods may be maintained.” (p. 225).
- Besides those cited above, pp. 161-5, see Shannon, op. cit., pp. 14-5; C.P. Sporken, quoted in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., pp. 105-6; and Robert Nowell, “Sex and Marriage,11 in On Human Life, op. cit., pp. 45- 71.
- Cf., Louis Janssens, “Chastite conjugale selon l’encyclique Casti connubii et suivant la constitution pastorale Gaudium et spes.” art. cit.
- “…iis adversari rebus, quas circa necessitudines inter coniuges moralis recte postulat ordo” (emphasis added).
- “…fateantur oportet, actum amoris mutui, qui facultati vitam propagandi detrimento sit, quam Deus omnium Creator secundum peculiares leges in ea insculpsit, refragari turn divino consilio, ad cuius normam coniugium constitutum est, tum voluntati primi vitae humanae Auctoris” (emphasis added).
- “Ecclesia…usum earum rerum ut semper illiciturn improbat, quae conceptioni directo officiant.”
- This argument was not found in reaction to the encyclical which would seem very logical since the only source that the emphasis could be thought to balance would be that of GS. Defenders of HV, however, usually tried to emphasize that GS contained an inherent perspective in direct line with the encyclical; to discredit the council document as being unbalanced would undermine the authority of the magisterium.
- Cf., Felix Bak, “Bernard Haring’s Interpretation of Cardinal Newman’s Treatise on Conscience,” in ETL 49(1973), n. 1, 124-59, p. 156; Enrico Chiavacci, quoted from Rocca (1 Sept. 1968) in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., pp. 106-7; Richard J. Connell, art. cit., pp. 77-81; Guy de Broglie, op, cit., pp. 78-80.
- Joseph F. Costanzo, “Papal Magisterium, Natural Law and Humanae Vitae,” art. cit., p. 287.
- Cf., John Mahoney, “The Development of Moral Doctrine,” art. cit., p. 265. G. Martelet, op. cit., uses the argument writing “in immediately placing the love of the spouses under the symbol of paternity which implies a child, the encyclical certainly intends to recall an essential truth of love” (p. 7 6); and “conjugal love attains its truth only by letting appear in its midst the fruit of its intimacy” (p. 77).
- Cf., Lionel Keane, art. cit., in On Human Life, pp. 37-8.
- It should seem redundant by now to state that this does not entail a general separation of human sexuality from its procreative meaning. Nor does that idea reflect the consensus of theological opinion which ran counter to the encyclical.